NEW YORK - Tidal, the upstart streaming service led by rap mogul Jay Z, on Tuesday branched into television-style programming with comedy and drama series.
Tidal announced two series to appear exclusively for subscribers - "Money and Violence," a bleak portrayal of the often bloody lives of drug dealers, and "No Small Talk," which features stand-up comedians.
The streaming service starting in January will air a second season of "Money and Violence," which premiered last year as a self-financed YouTube series.
Set in Jay Z's native Brooklyn, it quickly gathered a following, with the first episode seen more than 1.2 million times.
"This whole thing with this web series was... an idea that came absolutely out of nowhere," Moses Verneau, who created and stars in "Money and Violence," said in a promotional video released by Tidal.
"None of us have ever acted before, I've never stepped foot behind a camera, never edited or anything like that," he said.
"No Small Talk," which debuted on Tuesday, shows up-and-coming comedians at the Comedy Cellar club in New York's Greenwich Village.
The show is spearheaded by Cipha Sounds, a DJ and radio host who has worked in the past with Jay Z.
The rapper earlier this year bought Tidal from Swedish-listed company Aspiro for US$56 million (S$78 million) and rebranded it as a service crafted by artists, bringing out fellow stars including Madonna, Kanye West and his wife Beyonce for the launch.
But Tidal has faced tough competition including from Spotify, the leader in the fast-growing area of streaming, which provides unlimited, on-demand content.
Tech giant Apple in June started its own streaming service and, like Tidal, has tried to make its mark through exclusive content.
But major streaming companies - which also include Deezer, Google Play, Rdio and Rhapsody - have until now stayed primarily focused on music or music videos.