With New 'Original Channels,' YouTube Wants to Be Better than TV

It has partnered with dozens of celebrities, production companies, athletes

By Lucian Parfeni on October 29th, 2011 08:54 GMT

YouTube has finally unveiled its ambitious and expensive 'Original Channels' program that's been rumored for months. Several dozens of production companies, new and old, athletes, music stars and so on will be in charge of their own "channels" on YouTube and will create several hours, at least, of original content per week for the site.

These new channels are not to be confused with the existing channels on YouTube even though they are called the same.

These are part of a big push by YouTube, which is spending $100 million, €62 million on advances alone to get exclusive and high-quality content for the site.

That said, in practicality, there doesn't seem to be too much of a difference in how a regular YouTube channel works and how these new ones do. But since none of the new channels are live, we'll have to wait to see how will YouTube position them.

"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 CNN," Robert Kyncl, global head of Content Partnerships at YouTube, wrote.

YouTube was careful to note these big cable channels in an effort to explain how YouTube is actually expanding on the concept rather than actually competing with cable channels.

But, just as with Google TV, which just got a major update to coincide with the new media push, there are probably few cable channels that don't feel threatened.

"Today we’re announcing that even more talented creators and original entertainment will soon join YouTube’s existing channel lineup, including channels created by well-known personalities and content producers from the TV, film, music, news, and sports fields, as well as some of the most innovative up-and-coming media companies in the world and some of YouTube’s own existing partners," Kyncl explained.

The first new original channels will debut next month and more will come in time, into the next year.

YouTube has partnered with some really big names, Madonna, Jay Z, Wall Street Journal, Thomson Reuters, The Onion, Shaquille O’Neal, Tony Hawk, Demand Media, Pharrell Williams and many, many others.

Partners will get up to $5 million, €3.1 million in advance to cover the production costs. For this, they'll have to come up with original content each week for the next three years and the content will be exclusive to the site for the first year.

Importantly, the content creators retain the rights to the stuff they make, YouTube is only providing a loan. The site will then recoup the money from advertising, up to the sum it provided to the content creators and then split the ad revenue with them.
YouTube's original channels
   YouTube's original channels
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