YouTube announced a new slate of original series today that includes some huge stars at the top of the lineup. Will Smith will star in a six-part reality series about fitness and “returning his body into the best shape of his life,” and a four-part series will go behind the scenes with Alicia Keys as she records a new album.
The new lineup of originals also includes a third season of Liza Koshy’s Liza on Demand; a new special focused on Asian American chefs, celebrities, activists, and creators that counts LeBron James and Michelle Kwan as executive producers; and a new special called Barbershop Medicine that explores the intersection of race and socioeconomic status that came out of the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund that was announced last year.
YouTube has regularly changed up its approach to original content since it started making originals about five years ago. They started out as subscriber-only shows centered around creators, pivoted to ad-supported shows featuring mainstream stars like Kevin Hart and Will Smith (making this his second YouTube original), and more recently have delivered more of a mix of the two, with most shows being largely available to anyone who visits YouTube.
Still, big names like Will Smith and Alicia Keys guarantee views, and they provide credibility to YouTube and comfort for advertisers who may be worried about some of the platform’s wilder content. These series were, not coincidentally, announced in the middle of a YouTube presentation for advertisers.
Will Smith’s new series will debut next year; Alicia Keys’ arrives this summer.