YouTube chief business officer discusses brand safety and plans for new original content

YouTube chief business officer discusses brand safety and plans for new original content

YouTube has been giving off mixed messages with regards to the direction of original and premium content.

Last month, YouTube made cuts to its TV division, as well as a handful of original premium shows, scuppering plans to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon. 

In the same swoop, the platform announced that the cost of YouTube TV is going up and new channels are being added to the service. YouTube is also looking towards interactive choose-your-own-path content, similar to popular Netflix show Bandersnatch. 

However, company chief business officer Robert Kyncl has confirmed that the platform has a plan moving forward, and that plan does focus on original and TV grade content.

Speaking to AdWeek ahead of YouTube's appearance at NewFronts 2019, Kyncl discussed the significance of prime time television, and how that means something completely different to a global platform like YouTube.

"Prime time is personal," Kyncl said.

"When you work in platforms like ours, you live it every day, but we never thought about it until this year, when we stepped away and realized that prime time truly has become personal. That wasn’t possible on TV, because you have 24 hours to fill and you can’t deliver a personal experience. But on a platform like YouTube, you can."

Content strategy

YouTube announced this week that it would be stripping back its YouTube Premium service just eight months after launching it. Premium served as a paywall between free content and TV grade content.

However, Premium isn't disappearing completely. While all content will be free to view moving forward, the $12 a month subscription will still allow users to spend and avoid ads if they want to.

"One of the changes that we’ve gone through is to align our originals with the way YouTube works, which is everything is available free," Kyncl added.

"With originals, we’ve gone from being focused on driving subscriptions to aligning with the core business."

Kyncl then names the three pillars of YouTube's core business; learning, music and personalities.

The first pillar involves educational content which YouTube has invested heavily in, the second refers to music artists, and the third covers influencers that have and will continue to build their audience through YouTube.

Safe advertising

Of course, dropping the paywall and monetising all content with adverts means more opportunities for advertisers. But with the ever-looming presence of brand uncertainty on YouTube, companies need reassurance that the platform is the right place to be. 

"Responsibility is our No. 1 priority, because we know that is table stakes for everyone," Kyncl added, on the subject of brand safety.

"We’ve brought a number of people working on brand safety to 10,000 people. And on the machine learning front, we’ve continued to invest into it and machines help us find and remove policy violating content at scale.

"The scale is important. Just in Q4 of last year, we removed 8.8 million videos for violating our policies. That’s an incredible number."

Kyncl also highlights that 98 per cent of videos containing or promoting violent extremism are flagged by YouTube's machine learning algorithm. 

"At that scale, it’s incredibly important to have a harmony of machines and people attacking the problems because machines can provide scale and people can provide context." 


Danielle Partis is editor of and former editor of She was named Journalist of the Year at the MCV Women in Games Awards 2019, as well as in the MCV 30 under 30 2020. Prior to Steel Media, she wrote about music and games at Team Rock.