Google’s secret weapon against Netflix: Channing Tatum

Google’s YouTube has acquired its first big-budget Hollywood-made TV series, to compete against Netflix and cable firms, a new report said.

The series, to be based on the “Step Up” dance movie franchise that grossed $650 million at the box office and propelled actor Channing Tatum to stardom, will be offered on YouTube Red, Google’s $10-per-month, ad-free streaming service, according to the New York Times.

“It will cost several million dollars per episode to make, signaling the arrival of YouTube Red as a major-league buyer of content,” the Times reported on Thursday.

The TV series will move Google and YouTube into “more direct competition with players like Netflix and traditional cable networks,” the article said.

However, viewers hoping to relive the glory of Tatum break-dancing on a car with his chiseled this, that and the other may be in for a disappointment. He’s an executive producer for the series, and dancers in the shows, according to the Times, will be YouTube stars.

Lionsgate will create a full 10-episode season of 45-minute shows, the article said.

According to Deadline Hollywood, “The Step Up series is described as a heart-pounding, sexy, music-filled drama about dancers in a contemporary performing arts school.”

YouTube launched Red in October, and “the verdict is still out” on its business performance, the Times said, noting that Google CEO Sundar Pichai in an April earnings call had described it as “very well received.”

“But the company has not released user numbers, and some analysts have been unenthusiastic, especially as more streaming competition has arisen,” the Times reported. “Hulu, HBO, Netflix, Fullscreen, Go90, Seeso and Amazon, among others, are all pursuing this turf.”

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said in June that Red’s viewer numbers “rival similar cable shows,” according to IndieWire.

The series has no name yet, but is expected to start next year.

Photo: Channing Tatum in a publicity image for “White House Down.” (AP/Sony Columbia Pictures/Reiner Bajo)


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