YouTube’s plan, unveiled last February, was to spend $100 million on establishing dozens of professionally produced channels started off pretty well—new channels were being announced regularly. However, the site now plans to cut some of the less successful channels.
“They’ll cull the herd and work with the best,” said one source who suggests YouTube execs will be deep in discussions on its original-content initiative 2.0 plan over the next few weeks — and that the ax will fall on the less popular channels before 12/31, The NY Post has learned.
Along with the decision on which channels to cut will be a new round of funding for new channel startups: “By October or November they’re going to be deciding on new people to fund,” said one channel partner, who noted that by then YouTube will have had nine months to see what’s working and will move on to fund new channels as it hones in on the most lucrative models.
The original plan was 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. 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, teamed up with YouTube stars Ryan Higa and Kevin “KevJumba” Wu on the “YOMYOMF” channel.
Several new channels such as the extreme sports-focused Network A and Spanish-language Tutele have launched already. Maker Studios received money for three new channels. Maker cranks out about 300 YouTube videos each month at a bare-bones cost of about $1,000 each. As of August 2012, Maker has 1.4 billion views per month across more than 2,000 channels, 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.”
Former CBS executive Nancy 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.
Now, the weeding out of the less-popular videos comes amid a new emphasis at YouTube on the time viewers spend on the channel — and not just how many views each channel gets. YouTube is also looking to upgrade the quality of its videos as well.
“If a channel has 20 million views, and viewers spend just 35 seconds on the channel, how valuable is that to an advertiser?” one partner asked the paper.
Youtube CEO Salar Kamangar is putting fresh emphasis on quality and it looks to be boosting numbers. Since January total hours watched on YouTube jumped 33 percent to 4 billion from 3 billion.
One person familiar with YouTube’s 2.0 strategy said the site was moving from a shotgun approach to more of a sniper approach. The next phase will also include $200 million for online ads to promote the channels.
Among the higher-ranked original-content channels on YouTube are The Warner Sound, produced by Warner Music, and the Reserve Channel, a lifestyle and travel-focused effort.
Reserve, which debuted in July, airs a show featuring Eric Ripert, the chef at
Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney estimates YouTube will draw $3.6 billion in revenue this year, up 50 percent from 2011. YouTube has signed a host of advertisers that are spending upwards of $1 million a year at the site. Among big spenders are American Express, GM, Unilever, Gillette, Toyota and Hasbro.