Fans of the five Step Up films will have to... step up (sorry) to YouTube Red to see the franchise's latest entry, the TV series Step Up: High Water. To viewers who already subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, CBS All Access, HBO Now, Showtime Anytime, Starz, or any of the other seemingly infinite streaming offerings, one more subscription could be a tough sell. The smaller fish in the streaming pond are up against great white sharks in Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, all of which have the money and subscriber base to churn out original content and see what sticks. In response, the lesser-used services have turned to sure-thing properties to drive subscriptions: CBS All Access hauled in Trekkies with the latest Star Trek installation, and Showtime pulled in Twin Peaks fans with a decades-later continuation of the hit series.
Step Up might not strike you initially as having the same kind of fan base as either of those shows, but there's a reason five sequels exist, and YouTube is betting they'll open their wallets for a series. After Step Up, YouTube will release the Karate Kid series Cobra Kai, starring William Zabka and Ralph Macchio. Thrillist spoke with Susanne Daniels, YouTube's Global Head of Original Content, about how the platform landed on these two shows, and how YouTube's original series can compete for eyeballs (and dollars) in a crowded digital streaming landscape.
A franchise name helps, but it's no guarantee. A quick glance at the recent slate of shows based on movies -- like Rush Hour, Limitless, Minority Report, The Firm, Ferris Bueller, and beyond -- reveals a graveyard of failed franchise crossovers. YouTube has an advantage, however, for predicting the success of a movie spinoff, and it already has another series in the works.
"Both for Step Up and Cobra Kai, we looked into audiences watching the movies on Google Play and YouTube," Daniels said. "We looked into audiences watching clips, searching, how often they searched for the terms, for the titles. We know that both are meaningful titles to a vast number of people who enjoy YouTube."
As with all creative choices in the digital era, Big Data will have its say.