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YouTube Bows Original Content Channels; Google TV Gets Reboot

29 Oct, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

More than 100 video channels feature ad-supported, original content from myriad sources

YouTube Oct. 28 formally launched a slate of branded video channels featuring original content from third-party partners.

Meanwhile, parent Google is set to roll out the second edition of its proprietary TV platform on Oct. 30. Like the first edition, it does not feature subscription VOD services such as Hulu or Netflix.

The social media video behemoth — primarily known for its user-generated videos — said the new channels create a platform whereby traditional and upstart content holders can engage YouTube’s vaunted user-base to generate incremental revenue.

Content producers include celebrity-based channels around Shaquille O'Neal, Amy Poehler, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, Spider-Man creator Stan Lee and "Two and a Half Men" star Ashton Kutcher, among others.

No major studio appears to have submitted content to venture, underscoring Hollywood's general distrust of opening its content vault to third parties without greater control and a guaranteed revenue stream. This same lack of contribution from studios initially appeared to doom Hulu and ultimately led to the creation of subscription-based Hulu Plus, which has new episodes of TV shows.

Backed by a reported $100 million investment, the YouTube channels will feature about 25 hours a day in new programming. Content creators get a 55% split of all revenue after YouTube is reimbursed for its upfront costs.

The platform allows established and newbie producers in Hollywood to think outside the box and/or make a name for themselves.

"It's a great opportunity to incubate talent and really creative ideas that can then potentially have a life elsewhere," Dan Cutforth, co-founder of TV production company Magical Elves, told the Los Angeles Times.

A select number of channels bow in November and can be accessed on the computer and devices connected to the television, such as Blu-ray Disc players and video game consoles.

“Our goal with this channels expansion, along with the grants and educational programs we’ve launched in the past year, is to bring an even broader range of entertainment to YouTube, giving you more reasons to keep coming back again and again,” YouTube said in a statement. “And for advertisers, these channels will represent a new way to engage and reach their global consumers.”

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