YouTube debuts channel format


Google’s YouTube on Thursday unveiled its major channel re-design 12/2 in its continuing effort to emulate television viewing. The new look, which rolled out to the site’s 800 million monthly users, emphasizes content channels over the single videos that formerly dominated the home page. Users can pick their favorite channels and save them to the left side of the screen, where they can be more easily browsed.

But you do need to be a registered user and you’ll need to log into the site to see the new look. This dovetails with a more targeted offering to advertisers: YouTube recently enabled a feature that lets viewers skip ads that they find irrelevant. This allows advertisers to better target those interested in their product or service. The site is also shifting its ad model from a system of raw impressions, where advertisers pay each time a video ad is served on YouTube, to a model where they pay only when viewers watch the ads.

Said YouTube on its site: “Get more into YouTube: We’ve given YouTube a refresh. When you login, you’ll be greeted with recent activity from your subscriptions. You can also browse and add new Channels to your homepage. Connect with Google+ and Facebook to share your favorites with friends. There’s plenty to discover, so login and give it a spin.”

The new look also encourages users to stay within a channel for a longer period of time, rather than watch one or two videos and leave.

“We’re trying very hard to marry the best of TV and the best of online,” The San Francisco Chronicle quoted Shishir Mehrotra, VP/product development saying at an event at the Google’s San Bruno, CA headquarters.

The move comes a month after YouTube unveiled 100 new partnerships with content providers including Madonna, the Wall Street Journal and Shaquille O’Neal, Meredith, Disney, Ashton Kutcher, Amy Poehler and former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal. YouTube spent a reported $100 million to lure new talent, money that it plans to recoup through advertising on the channels. 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 began to appear on in November. One of them is 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.

YouTube is already the top online video destination, serving 3 billion views a day. Users spend an average of 20 minutes on YouTube each day, the company says, compared with five hours watching TV.

RBR-TVBR observation: YouTube’s quest to be a “cable MSO” online is pretty impressive. With Nielsen’s latest revelation that TV ownership is to be down for the first time next year, it seems YouTube is surfing a wave that’s just beginning to form—online programming vs. TV-only programming. Netflix and Hulu are also getting their surfboards waxed and with their own original content. All of this content will eventually be given ratings that TV/cable networks will have to compete with in media buyers’ offices.