Salar Kamangar, CEO of YouTube, has unveiled his vision for the future of online video, in two successive blog posts that went up yesterday. Kamangar took the opportunity to repeat the YouTube mantra – that most video and all platforms are basically equal, that audiences will flock to user-generated content just as quickly as content created by a major Hollywood studio, and that YouTube is positioning itself to be at the center of it all.
“Six years ago [when YouTube first launched], there were … two types of video: video you watched on your TV, and video you watched on your laptop,” Kamangar wrote in his first post. “Today there’s increasingly just video, and it’s available everywhere: on a phone, a tablet, a laptop, or a television screen, in your office, on your couch, in a cab. YouTube isn’t about one type of device or one type of video. Content from traditional media partners, made-for-web and personal videos all co-exist on the site.”
Kamangar said that the site is also bolstering its investment in original content production. Though he was light on details regarding what that investment will actually look like, Kamangar cited two existing programs – the YouTube Creators institute (a partnership with the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and Columbia College Chicago’s Television Department in which ten original content producers are sent to study professional video production in an academic setting) and YouTube NextUp (in which 25 user content producers are chosen to received $35,000 grant to develop their programs) as evidence of the site’s new emphasis on helping develop new made-for-YouTube talent.
Kamangar’s second post, which went up about two hours after the first, focused on the availability of a raft of new rental movies. About 3,000 additional titles will be available from multiple major studios – including NBC Universal, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures, and Warner Brothers. Still absent from that list, however, are Disney, Fox and Paramount, who have declined to license movie content to YouTube because of piracy concerns (and in Paramount's case, because parent Viacom, is currently in the midst of a heated lawsuit against YouTube).
The new video rentals will be available “at industry standard pricing” according to Kamangar, which based on initial additions of new material to the web site appears to mean the $2.99 range. Titles that will be available for rent will include “Little Fockers,” “The King’s Speech,” and “Caddyshack.” The new rental offerings supplement YouTube’s current collection of free on-demand movies, which includes titles like Ghostbusters and “Super Size Me.”
Addressing users directly, the suddenly chatty Kamangar's posts even appeared to enlist them as co-conspirators in YouTube’s plans to keep them on the site for longer and longer periods. “You’re spending just 15 minutes a day on YouTube," he wrote, "and spending five hours a day watching TV. As the lines between online and offline continue to blur, we think that’s going to change.”