Tech Talk: YouTube Rethininking Its Original Content Channels, Looks to Diversify

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November 14, 2012 ‐ By Kimberly Maul

Issa Rae at the DNC. Photo: Jim Dedmon/PictureGroup via AP IMAGES

Last year, YouTube put more than $100 million into a program that would build up its online “channels” that broadcast original content, an attempt to put online videos in head-to-head competition with television. Now, going into the program’s second year, Google and YouTube won’t renew all of those partnerships.

Google will renew contracts for about 30 percent to 40 percent of their partners, and those that are not renewed can decide to abandon the channel, or, if they want to stay on YouTube, must pay back the original investment before they are allowed to sell their own ads. Advertising Age reported there were 100 original partners that received up to $5 million in an advance against advertising revenue from Google and YouTube and in October, 60 new channels were funded.

While YouTube has not yet announced which channels will make the cut, AdAge’s list of the top 25 original content channels gives an idea of which channels are doing well in terms of views.

AllThingsD spoke to Jamie Byrne, YouTube’s director of content strategy, and reported, “The site is most concerned about engagement—primarily the total ‘watch time’ a channel has generated—and cost—how efficient programmers have been with their programming budget.”

YouTube’s investment in 60 new channels in October included international channels and a focus on a diverse audience, according to the Los Angeles Times. The paper reported that YouTube hopes to diversify its audience by partnering with celebrities including Russell Simmons, Jay-Z, and Queen Latifah to engage black consumers. Issa Rae, the creator of “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” has seen success with original content on YouTube, though the second season of her show was funded via a Kickstarter campaign and not this program from YouTube.

“YouTube executives see an opportunity to fund original programming for these audiences, which are underserved by traditional media,” the Times wrote.

As YouTube learns from and evolves its original content strategy, hopefully content from Simmons, Rae, and others in the black community can shine and gain more investment—and engagement—online.

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  • Sigh

    I also don’t get why they are funding multimillionaire celebs to make original content on YouTube. I think Google is moving away from the vision that the original creators of YouTube had, which was focused on giving ordinary people a voice. I understand that they need to generate revenue, but commercialized content is not going to help people become more engaged. It is becoming harder for creators to get views because YT is heavily promoting big partners and celebs.

  • Just saying!!

    I don’t like the idea of certain greedy celebrities getting involved on YouTube. I mean one reason I love YouTube so much is because it’s so real and you hear from real everyday people. I don’t want to go on YouTube to get stuff from Jay Z when he already has a bunch of stuff on tv. If they want to donate then great but creating content? No no no please don’t. That’s just my opinion…perhaps I’m misunderstanding something.

  • nursej

    What i would like is for youtube to stop barbarding my page when recommended viewing dogging my POTUS. that conspiracy theory mess should be seen when searched for, not endorsed by them!