YouTube signs some big names for new free-to-watch original shows

YouTube is doubling down on its original-programming efforts with a new round of premium, ad-supported content set to hit the platform soon.

Announced on Thursday, the new shows will be free for everyone to watch and not part of YouTube Red, its $10-a-month subscription service.

YouTube has signed up the likes of Kevin Hart, Rhett and Link, Ellen DeGeneres, Katy Perry, the Slow Mo Guys, Demi Lovato, and Ludacris for original content arriving “later this year,” the Google-owned company revealed in a blog post.

The first batch of fresh content will feature seven different shows from the above-mentioned stars. Kevin Hart, for example, will “team up with celebrity friends and YouTube stars each week as they attempt to master a different trending, grueling and sometimes ridiculous workout routine,” while YouTube stars The Slow Mo Guys will “test the latest in technology to reinvent the way we look at celebrities, music, pranks, comedy sketches and more, giving a one-of-a-kind glimpse into what the world looks like in slow motion.”

The new shows will be offered globally, and for free, to YouTube’s more than one billion users with the company hoping to rake in more revenue through accompanying ads from premium sponsors.

The news comes on the same day that Snapchat announced a content deal with A+E Networks for its very first reality TV drama series for Snapchat Shows, and just a few days after Twitter announced a major push into live streaming with original content from a slew of big-name partners. Social networking giant Facebook is also looking to fund its own original programming as part of its ongoing efforts to expand its streaming video offerings.

But the new offerings are also designed to retain its audience and pull in new viewers in the face of tough competition from other online video streaming giants such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.

YouTube will also spend “hundreds of millions of dollars” on creating more original content for YouTube Red that will include more than 40 shows and movies, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.