YouTube Content Chief Susanne Daniels to Depart as Platform Cuts Down Originals Slate

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Susanne Daniels, the global head of original content at YouTube, will exit the company in March as YouTube prepares to significantly cut down its slate of original programming.

In a letter to creators on Tuesday, YouTube’s chief business officer, Robert Kyncl, said the platform would only be funding programs that are part of the company’s Black Voices and YouTube Kids Funds — a marked departure from YouTube’s previous ambitions for a wide slate of original scripted and unscripted premium content to compete with streamers like Netflix.

“We will honor our commitment for already contracted shows in progress and creators who are involved with those shows should expect to hear from us directly in the coming days,” Kyncl said.

With these changes will come the departure of Daniels, a veteran TV executive who held top roles at MTV, Lifetime and The WB Network who was key in the development of hit shows like Gilmore Girls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Felicity and Dawson’s Creek. At YouTube, Daniels was responsible for overseeing premium scripted programming as the platform began focusing on subscription content in 2015. Shows developed under her leadership included Cobra Kai, On Becoming A God In Central Florida and a TV show based on the Step Up franchise — all of which eventually moved to other distributors after YouTube shifted away from original scripted content for its paid subscription service, YouTube Premium.

Instead, YouTube more recently has focused on original unscripted and documentary series with the release of Will Smith’s Best Shape of My Life, Michelle Obama’s Creators for Change, Demi Lovato’s Dancing With the Devil and a documentary about Alicia Keys, among others.

Daniels’ last day will be March 1.

“YouTube’s the biggest and best video platform in the world and what an exciting and tremendous experience I’ve had working to create meaningful programming for users of all ages and backgrounds all around the world,” Daniels said in a statement. “I’m so proud that our Original content could contribute to the ongoing growth and success of this remarkable platform, and I look forward to new adventures ahead.”

“Susanne and her team created an international slate of award-winning programs collectively amassing billions of views, shining a light on incredible creators, important social topics, and introducing YouTube to new audiences. In short, [YouTube Originals] played an integral role in growing the YouTube creator economy,” Kyncl said in his letter. “I want to thank her for her vision, creativity and leadership.”

Deadline first reported Daniels’ departure.

Jan. 18, 10:10 a.m.: Updated with details from Robert Kyncl’s letter.

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