For ‘Red’ Generation, It’s PewDiePie, Not ‘Family Guy’

Two main questions pop out of our new cover story, "Google's Big Red Video Play." Is YouTube Red a music service, like Spotify, or a TV platform, more along the lines of Netflix, or both? And, how will a generation that grows up consuming YouTube mature as video consumers? Will they ever find their way to broadcast and cable shows—“TV,” in local parlance—or is it all creator-driven streaming?

YouTube Red, with original programming starring the likes of YouTube stars Lilly Singh and pranksters Jesse and Jeana, and slightly more traditional fare such as the comedy Foursome, is a gamble to see if this cord-never generation will pay 10 bucks a month for ad-free YouTube, and a slate of originals that looks to number 20-25 this year, said Susanne Daniels, global head of original content. The sweet spot is users ages 14-34. The competition is "anyone targeting teens and millennials," she said.

Daniels of course made her bones in TV, running both broadcast and cable nets. Programming a streaming service means rolling out series all year long, and not worrying about traditional scheduling, such as building a comedy night or pairing like-minded dramas. But her mandate remains the same from her TV days—that Red's series and moves become hits.

"I feel the essence of what I'm doing is the same wherever I've worked," Daniels said.