YouTube has announced plans to create dozens of channels featuring comedians, sports stars, musicians and other entertainers. The channels will be free for viewers and supported by advertisers. Some of the channels will be online in November and others will be ready in 2012, according to people involved in the productions.
YouTube has positioned itself as a hub for professionally produced, made-for-the-Web material as well as the leader in amateur video, with torrents of amateur content posted daily. Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s global head of content partnerships, wrote in a blog post, “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.” Rishi Chandra, the director of product management for Google TV, added, “We’re looking for the next generation of MTVs, HBOs, just like cable.”
YouTube wants to create an alternative to cable television on the Internet and has offered cash advances to prospective producers of the content. YouTube purchased camera equipment and editing software for top producers as a way to improve the quantity of TV-quality content on the site. The channels increase the amount of shows that viewers can view on TV sets, laptops, and tablet computers.
Mario Quieroz, head of Google TV, said, “We’re not going from three to 300 channels but to millions of channels. The Web is essentially infinite content.” He also stated that YouTube is not trying to compete with cable, saying, “Like when the cable channels came to TV, we don’t believe the Web is going to replace linear TV. This is designed to be complementary to cable TV.”
YouTube has recruited digital studios like Electus and Vice and established brands like the Wall Street Journal, Thomson Reuters, and WWE to create content for the channels. The programming will be received from various media companies, including big television production companies like FremantleMedia and small start-ups like Maker Studios. Production companies associated with celebrities like Madonna, Rainn Wilson, and Shaquille O’Neal and online video outlets like Demand Media and the TED Conferences are also on the list of participants.