As YouTube seeks more original content, the video search giant and Hollywood are officially hooking up as Google offers $100 million plus to dozens of creative partners for new “channels” featuring original content and programming from big name brands, personal or corporate.
The raison d’être is simple: professionally produced videos by powerhouse brands are catnip to viewers and advertisers, who can be charged a premium over the hodge-podge of user-generated content that sells at a lower price.
The launch lineup of what will become more than 100 original channels will feature celebs such as Madonna, Jay-Z, Amy Poehler, and Ashton Kutcher; Deepak Chopra's The Chopra Well; The Comedy Shaq Network, featuring urban comedy presented by retired NBA star Shaquille O'Neal; and, given the popularity of TED Talks, TEDEducation: “audio from incredible teachers vivified by some of the world's best animators.”
Brands launching channels under YouTube's new content push include Red Bull, already strong in the content creation game; Lance Armstrong's Livestrong brand; WWE; Vice media; and branded entertainment from Ben Silverman's Electus venture with Barry Diller's IAC.
For sports, BedRocket Properties, from Huffington Post’s Ken Lerer with cable TV veteran Brian Bedol at the helm, adds four channels including Look TV, an action sports channel in partnership with Wasserman Media Group and a soccer-themed channel with Major League Soccer. For gamers, IGN, a News Corp. spin-off will partner with recently purchased the Shine Group to curate a game-themed channel.
Town Square, meanwhile, is the only channel dedicated to political news and commentary to be featured in YouTube’s just announced channel lineup. Town Square, if you haven't heard of it, is produced and hosted by political Web video pioneer Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks. Town Square’s first show will be The Point, a panel discussion of breaking news and issues submitted by celebrities, news makers, politicians and other household names.
The original crowdsourced model of YouTube is being siphoned into the inevitable pipeline model for all entertainment in an advertised-based market; professional content sells better.
“Our goal with this channels expansion, along with the grants and educational programs we’ve launched in the past year, is to bring an even broader range of entertainment to YouTube, giving you more reasons to keep coming back again and again. And for advertisers, these channels will represent a new way to engage and reach their global consumers,” writes Robert Kyncl, YouTube's Global Head of Content Partnerships, in a blog post.
Deals are still being inked, with ad sales control a key issue. Generally, “Google will advance most of the creators up to $5 million, and in return will get commitments to produce a couple hours of programming a week for the channel. Once the programmers have earned back their advance from YouTube, they’ll split ad revenue with the site. The programming will be exclusive to YouTube for at least the first year of the three-year deals,” according to AllThingsD.
YouTube, the largest experiment in publically generated and viewed content is going the way of all mainstream media and becoming a vehicle for flashier product produced by known brand names that advertisers are willing to support.
The site is also getting into producing its own original programming with content partners, such as YouTube Next Chef, as you can check out below: