updated 10:15 pm EDT, Fri October 28, 2011
Sources say celebrities, others approached
(Update: partly confirmed) Google is close to announcing approximately 100 new online "channels" for its YouTube service that will incorporate contributions from some media companies -- allegedly including some Hollywood production houses -- along with content from well-known online video producers for a total of about 25 hours per day of original programming, The Wall Street Journal claims. Unconfirmed reports have Google paying a "generous" portion of ad revenue to creators in exchange for content.
Most of the channels will launch next year, the report says, but a few will debut in the near future, and will also include about 20 hours per day of "library TV," ie previously-aired content or shows that were formerly (or are presently) seen on conventional TV networks. The YouTube "network" of content will cover 19 categories, with some channels targeting specific audiences -- such as the Hispanic and home-and-garden markets, along with other more general groups such as mothers, teens, animal lovers and more.
The paper, which says it has reviewed a business plan for the service, says Google plans to offer a "generous" revenue-sharing plan with content providers of up to 55 percent of ad revenues after Google has recovered its advance money, which is said to be far more than the $100 million initially reported. According to the terms of the plan, video content must remain exclusive to YouTube for 18 months, and cannot be removed from Google for three years. Popular shows are said to be likely to recoup their cash advances within two years.
Numerous personalities have been approached about generating content for the channels, including skateboarder Tony Hawk, "CSI" creator Anthony Zuiker, actress Suzanne Somers, basketball star Shaquille O'Neal and Deepak Chopra, among others. Production companies that are said to be on-board include the Hearst Corporation, Thomson Reuters and The Wall Street Journal.
A proposed fashion channel will feature the involvement of several upscale women's magazines, while a Hispanic channel will have Sofia Vergara from "Modern Family" among other deals. Also said to have been approached were Madonna, Jay-Z, singer Pharrell Williams and model Brooke Burke, though not all may eventually end up working out a deal.
While Google claims its venture is not meant to replace conventional TV but instead to "complement" it, the company will still be going after the same advertising dollars that TV networks currently attract, which many industry insiders see as a threat even while Google pitches it as an opportunity. Google is reported to be expecting advertisers to pay rates roughly comparable to the current rates for network and cable TV shows.
Update: YouTube has confirmed that "even more talented creators and original entertainment" will join the channel range. It didn't confirm that these would be live or all-day programming.
Examples of some of the larger channels include Car and Driver Television, Felicia Day's Geek & Sundry, Machinima, Pitchfork TV, RIDE (Tony Hawk's chanel), Slate, The Bowery, and The Onion.