Google TV upgrades; YouTube adding 100 video channels


Looks like Google is readying advertisers for the coming critical mass of viewers that watch online video on their TV screens: It’s signing deals with Hollywood to bring professional, high-quality programming to 100 new video channels on its YouTube video website. It’s also upgrading the software for its Google TV service for bringing the web to TV screens.

Google is spending more than $100 million on 100 online video channels for YouTube, some of which will feature celebs such as Ashton Kutcher, Amy Poehler and former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal.

The partnerships with dozens of media companies, production companies and online-video creators will generate about 25 hours of new programming each day. Google is planning to share ad revenue with content creators. It’s expected to give some of them as much as 55% of the proceeds after YouTube recovers the cash advances it paid out to producers.

The first channels will begin to appear on YouTube in November. One of them will be from Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz, co-founders of Magical Elves, the television production company that for five seasons produced the Bravo reality series “Project Runway” and is developing a reality show for NBC called “Fashion Star.” Cutforth and Lipsitz will create a fashion channel for YouTube in association with InStyle magazine called “Little Black Dress” that they hope will appeal to a broad audience from teenagers to adults.

Michael Eisner’s digital studio Vuguru is working in collaboration with Stan Lee’s POW Entertainment to create a YouTube channel called “Stan Lee’s YouTube World of Heroes,” which seeks to tell stories with the comic book legend’s unique voice.

YouTube plans to encourage users to subscribe to the channels, each of which will contain hours of programming.

Meanwhile, the latest version of Google TV is built on a new operating system: Android’s Honeycomb. The software update to applies to its integration with Sony televisions and Logitech set-top boxes. The new version has a simpler interface and new features that make it easier to browse the Internet for movies, television shows and videos.

RBR-TVBR observation: Google TV didn’t take off like many had thought–consumers had complained the service was too complicated and expensive. While the upgrade to simpler operation may help, Google TV still has major competition from the Xbox gaming console and set-top boxes from Apple TV and Roku. The added video channels may move the needle, though.