Not content with offering an alternative to broadcast television and cable channels, the Web is starting to mimic its longtime brother-in-arms. YouTube is about to get a swarm of new channels filled with original programming. With some big-name celebrities attached for good measure.
Back in February of this year it was rumored that Google was seeking celebrities to front channels that would make up a new section on YouTube dedicated to original programming. $5 million per channel/celebrity was on offer to those willing to commit.
In April the rumors changed slightly, with a $100 million pool of money set aside to create content for 20 channels. These would be new vertical channels based around genres – art, sport, technology, etc. – and change the look and feel of YouTube.
It turns out neither set of rumors was spot on, but both combined got somewhere near the truth.
YouTube has announced a whole raft of new channels coming to compliment the existing ones producing original content on a regular basis. Some will be run by YouTube stars, others by new media companies. And some will feature celebrities such as Madonna, Pharrell Williams, Jay-Z, Tony Hawk, Rainn Wilson, and Stan Lee. These can be broken down into Sports, Music, News & Education, Lifestyle, and Politics.
These new channels will start appearing on YouTube over the next month, with all of them coming online over the next year. Google is rumored to have paid around $100 million in advances in the hopes of clawing that back through premium advertising against the content. The company will then split ad revenue with the channel curators.
I’m intrigued by this whole idea, because it suggests YouTube is becoming much more than merely a place to watch videos of animals being cute and humans acting dumb.
As more people turn to the Internet as their primary source of entertainment this effort will further put the pressure on TV networks as people cut the cord. And it will also help give Google TV a boost. Possibly.
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