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Netflix Stock – How Demi Lovato’s bombshell documentary boosts YouTube’s ‘virtuous cycle’

Demi Lovato chose Google’s (GOOGL) YouTube as the official home for her four-part docuseries, “Dancing with the Devil.” It details the singer’s near-fatal overdose in 2018, and the turbulent events that led to it.

The bombshell documentary follows a similar path as Justin Bieber’s “Seasons,” Paris Hilton’s “This is Paris,” and Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman Diaries,” which also aired on the video-sharing platform.

In 2017, YouTube released “Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated,” a documentary about Lovato’s life and career.

But with traditional streamers from Netflix (NFLX) to Hulu (DIS) sinking their teeth into celebrity-focused programming, including “Surviving R. Kelly,” “Framing Britney Spears,” “Leaving Neverland” and “Operation Varsity Blues,” YouTube seems like a dark horse candidate for such a high-profile offering.

Or is it?

“YouTube has billions and billions of viewers,” Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi told Yahoo Finance. He added that although some YouTube Originals require a premium subscription, the platform “can help [celebrities] more aggressively promote some of the other things they may have in mind for the future such as attracting more subscribers to their own specific channels.”

Currently, nearly 17 million people subscribe to Lovato’s YouTube channel. According to the company, over 2 billion logged-in users visit the YouTube platform each month, with visitors consuming over a billion hours of video daily.

It’s a staggering number, especially compared to the user bases at both Netflix and Disney+, which have over 203 million and 95 million global subscribers, respectively.

Still, Mogharabi doesn’t think YouTube sees itself as a direct competitor to those leading OTT players. Rather, the platform is creating a role within the longer-form content space.

“My assumption is that Google is offering a combination of what we call AVOD (advertiser video on demand) and SVOD (subscriber video on demand) to monetize its users any way that they prefer to consume the content,” he explained.

YouTube’s ‘Virtuous cycle

Demi Lovato's four-part docuseries

Demi Lovato’s four-part docuseries “Dancing with the Devil” will air on Youtube

YouTube makes up over 41% of ad-supported streaming among U.S. households — more than any other ad-supported platform, according to recent data from Comscore.

Additionally, YouTube ads made nearly $7 billion in the final quarter of 2020— up 46% year-on-year and accounting for just over 12% of Alphabet’s overall revenues of $56.9 billion for the quarter, the company said in its latest earnings report.

This means YouTube can afford bigger budgets, attract more lucrative content and offer larger pay outs.

“It’s somewhat of a network effect,” Mogharabi said, explaining that “the more larger brand advertisers that [Youtube] can attract, the more capital or monetization opportunities it has to lure in these celebrities and help them enhance their own channels.”

“That virtuous cycle just keeps going — and if you think about it, that’s another reason why it brought on some of these longer-form pieces,” he continued.

YouTube makes up over 41% of ad-supported streaming among U.S. households — more than any other ad-supported platform, according to Comscore

YouTube makes up over 41% of ad-supported streaming among U.S. households — more than any other ad-supported platform, according to Comscore

The network effect better positions YouTube as a well-rounded video streaming player.

Now, not only is it a platform that hosts user-generated content, but it is also a streamer that’s better equipped to attract large advertisers who, historically, have been cautious to partner with the service due to its various user-generated risks.

This, Mogharabi notes, is not only beneficial for YouTube but also the celebrities who wish to host professionally- created content on the platform.

Why YouTube is ‘all of the above’

As for the future of YouTube, its identity seems a bit muddled: Is it a place for music, docuseries, longer-form content, traditional video sharing, or a platform for creators?

“It’s all of the above,” Mogharabi told Yahoo Finance, adding that YouTube’s Music and Premium options are just a few factors driving subscriber growth.

“It comes down to, ‘Hey, we have around 2 billion viewers on Youtube. Let’s figure out the many different ways or a combination of different ways to monetize these users,'” he said.

“In the long run, this will be beneficial for Youtube and Google overall,” he added.

Mogharabi currently has a price target on Alphabet of $2,605 dollars a share and describes it as an “attractive” buy.

Alexandra is a Producer & Entertainment Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193

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Netflix Stock – How Demi Lovato’s bombshell documentary boosts YouTube’s ‘virtuous cycle’

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