YOUTUBE is to make films and TV programmes with its biggest stars, as part of its attempts to move into paid-for content and eventually take on Netflix and other on demand services.
The Google-owned company will initially launch four partnerships, with a plan to "release several feature length films over the next two years" with the stars. The initial channels involved are the Fine Brothers, Prank vs Prank, Joey Graceffa and Smosh.
The new shows will be developed with Brian Robbins from AwesomenessTV, a YouTube channel and multi-channel network that brings different YouTubers together and helps to promote them. Other films developed by AwesomenessTV have seen strong success, topping the iTunes chart.
Smosh and the Fine Brothers, both long-term popular YouTube channels, will each develop a scripted comedy series. Joey Graceffa will make an "all-new murder mystery reality series" and Prank vs Prank will make a show where "celebrity guests join Jesse and Jeana to pull off their most ambitious pranks yet".
It's not clear how or whether YouTube will charge for the new programmes. But the company has long been rumoured to be working on a paid-for service that would include exclusive content as well as other features like offline viewing.
The films will first be shown on YouTube, before presumably being sold elsewhere. YouTube said it believed that process "will become a new distribution paradigm for years to come".
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