Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

YouTube RED: A New SVOD Pipeline for Documentary & Unscripted Commissions

YouTube Red is the new SVOD (Subscription Video on Demand) service that targets the booming market pioneered by Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.

RED announced its first original documentary special and reality series at Sundance last month.

That’s just the first step by the corporate Goliath which recently reported $21.4 Bn revenues for 4Q 2015.

I asked Kinonation’s Roger Jackson for his analysis while we were preparing for our VOD panel at next week’s very promising AIDC Conference in Melbourne.

I blended our RED Takeaways, and here they are, dedicated to a successful AIDC!

Financial Scale

  • YouTube Red can draw on almost unimaginable financial resources to deliver on its promise.
    • YouTube’s parent Alphabet currently enjoys an Enterprise Value of $480 Bn.
    • Netflix’s is $38 Bn.
    • And Discovery’s is just $17 Bn.


Consumer Impact

  • Google is notorious for withholding its performance data.
  • However, the magic number floating out there for Google searches is 3+ billion / day.
  • That’s 1.3+ trillion / year!
  • There are also untold #’s of YouTube views and uploads by users.
  • Each of these touch points can be used to pitch a YouTube Red subscription.
  • That’s a reach that cannot be replicated by any other competitor in the SVOD space.



SVOD2Opportunities, Success Factors & Deal Terms
for Netflix, Amazon and VOD Platforms
Original analysis from
Read More. Download Now: $29.95


RED Price

  • $9.99 month.
  • 30-day free trial membership.
  • That’s possibly a tough sell for millions of people used to YouTube as a free service.


  • All video available on YouTube with ads can be viewed on RED without ads.
  • Videos can also be saved offline.
  • Basically it’s taking existing YouTube and making it easier, ad-free, and downloadable.
  • Movies — including from major studios — are coming soon, both features and docs.
  • The subscription includes the Google Play music service.


  • That’s a much bigger benefit for consumers, since right now almost all movies on YouTube and Google Play are TVOD (Transactional VOD). I.e. consumers pay a fee to rent or buy.
  • All the major YouTube networks and channels are participating in Red.

The Deal

  • Red is paying indie films & episodic shows on a rev share basis.
  • License fees will be paid for bigger studio movies, TV series and signature docs.


  • USA only right now.
  • Will extend to other territories. And soon!


Target Market

  • YouTube is targeting the youthful market that already views and uploads videos.
  • “YouTube has something Netflix would probably find almost impossible to replicate: millions of young people willing to post free content in the hope of getting famous, or because that’s what young people do!” VideoNuze

Original Content

  • As with the three other major SVOD services (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu), Red is investing heavily in original content, mostly from existing YouTube channel stars/creators.
  • YouTube Red’s initial lineup includesA Trip To Unicorn Island, a documentary that follows Lilly “iiSuperwomanii” Singh during a recent tour.
  • Lazer Team is a film from Rooster Teeth that wasfunded via Indiegogo.
  • Dance Camp is anAwesomenessTV production starring Meg DeAngelis.
  • Scare PewDiePie is a series that puts the world’s most popular YouTube star into real-life horror scenarios.


  • Red is not constrained by TV hour and half-hour formats.’
  • Originals may be shorter than 10 minutes.
  • That’s another boost for the hot short documentary format.

Key Executive

  • Susanne Daniels left the top content job at youth-targeted MTV last year to become global head of originals for YouTube Red.

Early Days

  • YouTube Red is likely to emerge as a powerful player in commissioning original documentaries.
  • For the foreseeable future the content will be youth-targeted.
  • It will be unlike the Netflix / HBO offers of authored docs that appeal to a broader and older audience.


Read more about Roger Jackson and Kinonation here.



My AIDC Panels

  • I’m excited about seeing many of my readers in Melbourne.
  • Both panels are expert-packed!
  • The AIDC team is doing a great job.
  • Please make a point of saying hello!

What Video On Demand Means for Docs
Monday 29 February

  • Rebecca Heap, Head of Strategy and Digital, iView / ABC
  • Roger Jackson, Co-founder, Kinonation
  • Sharon Ramsay-Luck, Head of Sales & Business Development, ABC Commercial
  • Moderator: Peter Hamilton

Sunday 28 February

  • Jeni McMahon, Screen Victoria
  • Roy Ackerman, Pulse Films
  • Leanne Pooley, Filmmaker
  • Penny Robins, Producer
  • Maya Newell, Producer/Filmmaker
  • Phil Craig, AIDC Board
  • Moderator: Peter Hamilton

Our introductory panel will cover trends across the documentary / unscripted sector. Don’t miss it.



SVOD2Opportunities, Success Factors & Deal Terms
for Netflix, Amazon and VOD Platforms

Read More. Download Now: $29.95