YouTube Unveils Original Content Channels in Challenge to TV

Fri Oct 28, 2011 7:14pm EDT

YouTube announced plans to create dozens of channels with original content on Friday, constructing an online challenge to the television experience and signaling the video giant's official leap into high-quality programming.

“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,” Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s global head of content partnerships, wrote in a blog post. 

YouTube unveiled numerous high-profile names among the channel producers, including Jay-Z, Amy Poehler and Ashton Kutcher.

Among the producers announced as having channels were Reuters, Electus, Slate and The Wall Street Journal. (Electus is producing several channels, as is Berman-Braun.)

Lionsgate is the only movie and television studio among nearly 100 content partners.  CSI creator Antony Zuiker will be creating content for Black Box TV on one channel; Sofia Vergara is involved in an Hispanic pop culture channel. 

The initiative is expected to generate about 25 hours of new programming a day on YouTube, The Wall Street Journal reported, which noted that most of the channels will launch next year.

In touting its plans, the site posted notice that it would be offering channels created “by well-known personalities and content producers as well as some of the most innovative up-and-coming media companies and some of YouTube’ own existing partners.”

The initiative is intended to be a challenge to cable television, and is part of Google's strategy of becoming a next-generation television provider.  

YouTube has been the number one global site for video, but until now has failed to find a viable monetization strategy with user-generated content. 

The news had been in the air. The Wall Street Journal had earlier written that Google had shelled out more than $100 million to partners to start producing content.  

For the partners, the initiative will not mean big bucks, at least to start.  YouTube will reportedly be offering content partners an advance of $5 million in exchange for a couple of hours of programming a week.

After that sum is recouped through advertising, revenues will be shared 50-50 with the partner.

Among the dozens of channels debuting are: 

>> Awesomeness, from Brian Robbins, the producer of "Smallville."

>> Car and Driver Television

>>"Life and Times," from the rap star Jay-Z

>> A pop culture channel from producer Ben Silverman featuring Nicole Richie and Justin Long 

>>"Smart Girls at the Party" with Amy Poehler, Meredith Walker and Amy Miles

>>"Thrash Lab" from Ashton Kutcher

>> Madonna was reportedly planning to launch a dance channel

You can see the splash page for the channels here. 

The new channels provide the long-missing monetization piece for YouTube, providing content against which the Google-owned site can sell advertising. 

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