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YouTube Pays Some of Its Biggest Stars to Make More Stuff for YouTube

News about Smosh, AwesomenessTV and others today; more to come tomorrow.

Melly Lee
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Last year we told you about deals YouTube was offering to get its stars to make more YouTube videos. Today YouTube is telling you about some of those deals: The world’s biggest video site is announcing tie-ups with five of its biggest contributors, and will help them finance stuff that will appear on the site.

We’ll tell you about those deals in a second, but first some context: YouTube is making this announcement a day before its mammoth “Brandcast” event in New York City, where it will sell itself to advertisers. Many video industry executives expect YouTube to announce other programming deals at that event. So you might want to consider today’s announcement a warm-up to tomorrow’s announcements.

Actually, let’s step back and provide even more context: YouTube is doing these deals for several reasons, but a big one is that it wants to make sure that some of its biggest stars don’t bolt for competitors like Facebook or Vessel. So these announcements are both proactive — Hey, advertisers, look at these brand-friendly faces we have — and defensive — Hey, YouTube stars! If you stay, we’ll pay.

Okay? Okay. Coming to a Tube near you:

  • YouTube oldsters the Fine Brothers will create a “new scripted comedy series that takes a satirical look at the world of singing competition shows.”
  • More pranks from the people who bring you Prank vs. Prank, which is what you think it is.
  • Joey Graceffa, who has excellent hair, “will lead an all-star cast of YouTubers in his all-new murder mystery reality series.”
  • Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla, who have built a huge following under the Smosh brand, will create a new series about a “theme restaurant where out-of-control kids and crazy parents are all in a day’s work.”
  • DreamWorks Animation’s AwesomenessTV will create “several feature-length films over the next two years,” which will appear on YouTube before any other platforms, “setting what [YouTube hopes] will become a new distribution paradigm for years to come.”

YouTube says the first Awesomeness movie will come out this fall, but beyond that doesn’t provide any other details about what it’s planning. Then again, per above, this is really sort of an announcement about an announcement. More to come, soon.

This article originally appeared on

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