NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, CW and YouTube? The Wall Street Journal is reporting on a major YouTube overhaul that will have the site acting more like a TV network than a repository for random, user-generated videos.
The article says that YouTube is prepared to spend up to 100 million dollars on content created exclusively for the site. Content that goes beyond Rebecca Black’s “Friday, Friday” and endless hours of animals and babies doing funny things. What YouTube is after, is content that will have people tuning in week after week, just like they do for their favorite shows on TV.
A big part of the upgrade will be the creation of channels which will be featured on the homepage. Some of the channels will be created to support the original programing, while others will just group similar videos that are already on the site. The Wall Street Journal says that YouTube has been in talks with all the big Hollywood talent agencies, no doubt looking for partners with name recognition to spearhead these new channels.
YouTube shouldn’t have any trouble finding talent interested in creating exclusive content. Where working on a webshow used to be akin to a Broadway star working community theater, that’s no longer the case. Many actors, directors and writers have found that they can be more creative on the web, trying things they’d never get past a major studio. And while comedy certainly rules, the landscape is wide open and ready for dramas, documentaries, reality shows and educational programing.
YouTube’s goal is to up the amount of time the average user spends on site, but if they plan to do that by adding full-length TV shows and movies, that could be a problem. Many people watch three hours of TV a night, but not many would do it online.
Still, as more people get reliable, inexpensive access to streaming videos and the content quality increases, it’s possible that YouTube could become a viable option to network TV.
Now all they have to do is convince the advertisers.