YouTube Announces Channels

Video site will feel a little more like cable TV

After months of speculation with almost no official confirmation, YouTube has finally announced its long-awaited channel strategy in a post to the company’s blog late Friday evening. The announcement falls in line with what had previously been reported in the press, namely that YouTube will be expanding its lineup of channels to include new offerings from a variety of partners, including well-known personalities and brands in the Hollywood, music, news, and sports worlds.

“These channels will have something for everyone, whether you’re a mom, a comedy fan, a sports nut, a music lover, or a pop-culture maven,” YouTube’s global head of content partnerships Robert Kyncl said in the post.

Under the new system, content creators—like Vice Media or the video game lifestyle network Machinima, for example—will have a dedicated channel on the site that they will control, continually updating it with video content. YouTube, for its part, will sell ads against that video inventory.

YouTube is seeking to organize its site much in the way a cable provider organizes linear TV channels—a fact that Kyncl acknowledged in his post today. “Cable television expanded our viewing possibilities from just a handful of channels to hundreds, and brought us some of the most defining media experiences of the last few decades—think MTV, ESPN, and HBO,” Kyncl wrote. “Today, the Web is bringing us entertainment from an even wider range of talented producers, and many of the defining channels of the next [generation] are being born, and watched, on YouTube."

The channel announcement comes on the heels of a number of other content initiatives from YouTube in recent months, such as its Partner Grant program—announced in July—which sets aside a total of $5 million in creative grants for qualifying video makers to improve their video content. The efforts are aimed at coaxing viewers into engaging with YouTube as they engage with television, spending much more time watching a wider, more compelling array of video content.

As YouTube chief Salar Kamangar wrote last May in a blog post entitled "Welcome to the future of video. Please stay a while," "You’re spending just 15 minutes a day on YouTube, 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."