YouTube to offer premium channels


Looks like Netflix isn’t the only one getting into the original television programming game: Google’s YouTube is working to overhaul its site by introducing some 20 premium channels that would feature professionally-produced content. Each channel will feature weekly content of five to 10 hours of original programming.

The popular site is trying to position itself for the rise of iPTVs that let people watch online video in their living rooms, according to a WSJ story: “YouTube is looking to compete with broadcast and cable television, some of these people said, a goal that requires it to entice users to stay on the website longer, and to convince advertisers that it will reach desirable consumers.”

The channels are to center around topics such as arts and sports. Additional channels would be assembled from content already on the site.

It is planning to spend as much as $100 million to commission low-cost content designed exclusively for the Web, the story said. Last fall, YouTube entered negotiations to license Miramax’s library of 700 films. It hasn’t closed yet but, YouTube would have paid around $100 million for the movies—on par with what Netflix recently paid for the same library. YouTube does offer some full-length recent and older hit movies and shows, such as “The Da Vinci Code” and “Married…With Children,” etc, WSJ said.

YouTube is still pushing for deals to get more well-known TV shows and movies onto the site as well. The changes are expected to be phased in over time, starting before the end of this year.