Is YouTube gearing up to compete with broadcast and cable television? According to the Wall Street Journal they are, with a major site overhaul before year’s end. Apparently YouTube is planning to launch a series of changes on its homepage to highlight twenty or so channels with professional content, revolving around topics like Arts and Sports. If this is genuine then it could mean big changes ahead for YouTube viewers and content creators alike.
The Wall Street Journal reports that, “[YouTube] is planning to spend as much as $100 million to commission low-cost content designed exclusively for the Web,” which would be featured across these new “channels”. The inside information came, according to WSJ, from “people familiar with the matter”. However, they also mention that a YouTube spokesman declined to comment, saying only that, “YouTube saw incredible growth in 2010 and we’re excited about the future.”
If recent events have anything to say about it, I’m inclined to believe that WSJ’s sources are accurate. Following YouTube’s recent partnership with Next New Networks and launch of YouTube Next, it’s no surprise that YouTube may start paying for original content. After all, Next New Networks has been dealing with helping creators produce and market high level YouTube content for years.
The fact that YouTube is going to begin paying creators for content, which is a step away from their Partner Program rev-share, is also not entirely shocking. Though they haven’t been paying their partners for content directly, they have recently launched a number of initiatives to reward partners and help them create even better content, such as a Partner Grants Program, $1,000 credits at B&H Photo for select partners and, most recently, a new YouTube school for content creators. Paying for professional content is simply the next step, especially if Google wants to develop a strong base of loyal viewers.
Sure, there are loyal viewers and fans that watch partners like MysteryGuitarMan and NigaHiga religiously. But these partners can only pump out so much content in a week. According to the Wall Street Journal, the new topical YouTube channels “will feature several hours of professionally produced original programming a week.” The so-called “people familiar with the matter” say that Google is looking to use these new channels and content to compete with broadcast on connected devices. If people can watch 5 hours of professional, relevant sports coverage a week on YouTube then they may throw their broadcast sports news shows aside and start spending more time on YouTube.
According to WSJ, “YouTube is still in the process of designing the channels and in recent weeks held meetings with Hollywood talent agencies such as Creative Artists Agency, William Morris Endeavor and International Creative Management to discuss the possibility of their clients creating YouTube channels, people familiar with the matter said.” They also mentioned that YouTube is pushing to get more well-known television shows and movies on the site as well. It will be interesting to see what comes of those meetings (as well as who these “people familiar with the matter” are!) and when and how YouTube will begin to roll out the new format.
What do you think of the idea of a revamped YouTube site, chock-full of professional content? Do you prefer that idea to the present state of the popular video site?
Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times. Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.