Justin Bieber’s docuseries sets YouTube viewing record

Justin Bieber: Seasons” has set a new record for YouTube: The docuseries’ first episode scored as the most-viewed premiere of all the platform’s originals to date in its first week.

Episode 1 of “Seasons” had 32.65 million views in the first week after its Jan. 27 debut, according to YouTube. That beat out YouTube’s original comedy “Liza On Demand” Season 2 debut (25.4 million) and the first episode of “Cobra Kai” Season 2 (21 million) over the same time periods.

YouTube paid upwards of $20 million for the 10-part Bieber docuseries, making it YouTube’s most expensive acquisition to date, Variety reported. “Seasons” promises fans a revealing look at the making of the “Changes,” the pop star’s first new album in over four years.

Bieber, who famously got “discovered” on YouTube, is the most-followed music artist on the platform — and just surpassed 50 million subscribers for his channel. “Started as #kidrauhl and now this. Thank you,” Bieber tweeted Wednesday, referring to his original YouTube username.

YouTube has released the first four episodes of “Justin Bieber: Seasons” for free so far, available on Bieber’s YouTube channel, including Episode 4 on Wednesday. YouTube Premium subscribers can currently access episodes 1-6 in addition to early ad-free access to future episodes of the series beginning next week.

The docuseries is a lead-in to the Feb. 14 release of “Changes,” touted as “the most personal album of his career,” from RBMG/Def Jam Recordings, which precedes his 2020 tour, set to hit 45 cities this summer.

According to the show’s producers, “Seasons” takes viewers behind the scenes to show Bieber’s process of creating new music; the motivation for his fifth studio album; and the aftermath of his decision to cancel the final shows of his 2017 “Purpose” tour. The series also promises glimpses of Bieber’s private life — including never-before-seen footage from his wedding this year to Hailey Bieber — featuring interviews with Hailey, his closest friends and collaborators, and Bieber himself.

In greenlighting the project, YouTube was counting on Bieber’s global fanbase to drive viewers to the ad-supported “Seasons” series. As part of YouTube’s revamped programming strategy, new originals series and specials, including “Justin Bieber: Seasons,” are available for free in front of the paywall. YouTube once saw original programming as underpinning its subscription business, but it has abandoned scripted entertainment to focus on ad-supported originals in three categories: music; learning; and celebrity/personality-driven series.

Justin Bieber: Seasons” is directed and executive produced by OBB Pictures’ Michael D. Ratner with photographer Joe Termini set to direct additional episodes. The docuseries is produced by Bieber Time Films, SB Projects and OBB Pictures. Bieber serves as executive producer, alongside Scooter Braun, Allison Kaye and Scott Manson for SB Projects and Michael D. Ratner, Scott Ratner and Kfir Goldberg for OBB Pictures. Alex Piper, head of unscripted originals for YouTube, and Cara Casey, development lead for YouTube originals, oversee “Seasons” for the video platform.