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The YouTube revolution

YouTube is changing the way television works – and is well placed to become the ultimate content provider

In just 11 years, YouTube has gone from novelty video-sharing site to serious media player. Not content with establishing itself as a legitimate alternative to mainstream television news, the Google-owned social media juggernaut is about to change the way television itself works.

In October last year, YouTube debuted its Original Channel in the US. Billed as ‘awesome content from the stars of music, TV, film, and sports, plus the world’s most innovative media brands’, it is effectively content created specifically for YouTube. Not content that is premiered elsewhere and then finds its way onto YouTube. But content that exists solely on YouTube.

It is a content model that has the potential to be a game-changer. In fact, Google is betting it can become a game-winner by extending the project to the largest European markets – France, Germany and the UK.

In all, 60 new channels will be available, all featuring broadcast-quality content from top producers including ITN and Hat Trick Productions. It means such high-profile TV stars as Jamie Oliver will now have a dedicated home on YouTube thanks to channels like the Jamie Oliver Food Channel.

Original content the key

Jamie Oliver’s new home will be YouTube

‘The insight for us was that though some partners were making successful businesses out of creating content on YouTube, it was not happening at the scale or the pace that we would love to see it happening, or as widely in terms of genre,’ Ben McOwen Wilson, director of YouTube for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told the Guardian.

‘[Original Channels] is accelerating that, jumpstarting it, to get more partners working with us to create original content for the platform.’

The Guardian reports that YouTube is offering an advance to channels taking part, and will offer them a share of revenue once this is recouped. McOwen Wilson said YouTube had seen a huge number of pitches for the new channels, but wanted content that exploited YouTube’s interactivity and could respond to comments and shares among viewers, rather than lengthy pre-written series.

‘It is not a dumping ground. Some of these ideas couldn’t be done on traditional television, which couldn’t afford the specificity of the audience or the interactivity,’ he said.

Such a project doesn’t come cheap. The US launch of 100 channels, featuring content from CNN, MTV and ESPN, reportedly required an investment of $100 million from Google. A year on and YouTube is claiming 20 of those channels now generate more than a million views a week, with music channel The Warner Sound easily the most popular.

McOwen Wilson said YouTube is looking to expand Original Channels to other markets, including the rest of Europe and Asia. Stay tuned, Australia…

 

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