Google’s YouTube is enlisting more help from Hollywood, aiming to create 25 hours of programming per day. The site is spreading its wealth among producers, directors, and other filmmakers, using the $100 million it committed last fall.
Remember, this April YouTube, Yahoo, Hulu, AOL and Microsoft are planning a two-week upfront event in NYC, dubbed “Digital Content New Fronts.” Each company will take a different day to present different marketing opportunities to agencies and advertisers such as plans for upcoming video programming and original series.
YouTube also recently revamped its homepage to prioritize channels and recommendations above just the most-viewed videos. The revamp allows advertisers to target popular channels or categories of content more easily.
The idea is to create 96 additional YouTube channels, which are essentially artists’ home pages, where viewers can see existing video clips and click “subscribe” to be notified when new content goes up, reports The AP. YouTube is betting that a solid stream of good content will attract more revenue from advertisers, bring viewers back frequently and bolster its parent company’s Web-connected-TV platform, Google TV.
The TV producers include “Fast Five” director Justin Lin, who directs episodes of “Community,” ”CSI” creator Anthony Zuiker and Nancy Tellem, the former president of CBS entertainment. Lin, who is teaming up with YouTube stars Ryan Higa and Kevin “KevJumba” Wu on the “YOMYOMF” channel, said his focus is not to try to find audiences with stereotypical Asian-American content. Rather, the idea is to give a platform to people who have unique voices but haven’t been heard yet.
Zuiker is teaming up on a horror series for YouTube after observing his own family’s behavior. His three pre-teen sons spend more time on phones, iPads and computers than watching TV these days.
“We want to jointly take the risk with YouTube and roll the dice on the future,” Zuiker told The AP. “The old regime is going to falter because everybody thinks the TV is the only device that really counts, and that’s just not the case.”
Several new channels such as the extreme sports-focused Network A and Spanish-language Tutele have launched already. YouTube hopes to have them all up and running by this summer.
About a third of the new channels were awarded to YouTube veterans who already know how to make it big online while keeping production costs low. YouTube expects to recoup what it spends on the grants by sharing ad revenue the new videos generate.
At Maker Studios, which received money for three new channels, the funds have turbo-charged an already teeming operation that has about 160 full-time staff spread across several buildings crammed with props and computers in LA. Maker cranks out about 300 YouTube videos each month at a bare-bones cost of about $1,000 each. The studio’s videos generate 500 million views each month, thanks largely to established hits that include Ray William Johnson’s roundup of crazy videos and such viral giants as “Epic Rap Battles of History.”
Established YouTube partners share roughly half of their revenue with the site. So if Maker videos generate $1 or $2 in ad revenue per thousand views, it would just be scraping by.
Maker co-founder Danny Zappin, who quit film school to buy a high-end camera to start a career on YouTube, says it’s a “tricky balance” to keep the studio’s share of ad revenue higher than the cost of video-making. The undisclosed amount it got from YouTube, on top of the $4 million venture capital it received about a year ago, lets Maker put up more videos without waiting for the views and cash to roll in.
For other less-established players in online video, the money has given them an added reason to get involved.
Former CBS executive Tellem teamed up with TV entrepreneur Brian Bedol to create Bedrocket Media Ventures, an new production company behind several new YouTube channels, including Network A. The funding “allowed us, or caused us, to focus on YouTube ahead of other platforms,” Bedol said.
Advertisers pay up to $10 per thousand views for video ads that precede the featured content, according to TubeMogul, a buyer of YouTube ads for advertisers including Proctor & Gamble and News Corp.’s 20th Century Fox movie studio.