YouTube today announced a new batch of original series with some big stars at the top of the lineup. Will Smith will star in a six-part reality series about fitness and “getting his body back to the best shape of his life,” and a four-part series goes behind the scenes with Alicia Keys as she records a new album.
The new series of originals also includes a third season of Liza Koshy’s Liza on request; a new special targeting Asian-American chefs, celebrities, activists and creators that includes LeBron James and Michelle Kwan as executive producers; and a new special called Barbershop medicine which explores the intersection of race and socioeconomic status that emerged from the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund announced last year.
YouTube has regularly changed its approach to original content since it started creating originals about five years ago. They started out as subscribers-only shows around creators, targeting ad-supported shows starring famous stars like Kevin Hart and Will Smith (making this his second YouTube original), and more recently they’ve brought in more of a mix of the two, with most of the shows largely available to anyone who visits YouTube.
Still, big names like Will Smith and Alicia Keys guarantee views, and they give YouTube credibility and comfort to advertisers who might be concerned about some of the platform’s wilder content. It is no coincidence that these series were announced in the middle of a YouTube presentation for advertisers.
Will Smith’s new series will debut next year; Alicia Keys’ arrives this summer.