With the initial 100 channels from its Original Channel Initiative under review, YouTube’s relationship with its content creators has been hit or miss, depending on who you talk to. Some channels have been fully embraced by Google – namely its sizable investment in Machinima – while others are struggling to survive on the platform’s “loan.” For content creators, the competition to remain in YouTube’s favor is cut throat and the harsh reality of doing business with the network is that there are a new crop of channels waiting as replacements should need be. And now the competition got a little more crowded, as YouTube has announced that it was adding more than 60 new channels – many of which are from Europe.
YouTube began its foray into original programming one year ago with an initial $100 million investment distributed to 100 channels. The company realized that advertisers were more inclined to spend premium ad dollars on branded programming in a series format, and saw an opportunity to evolve its platform into a destination that could replace television viewing — as lofty of a goal as that is, it’s one that all Internet-based, streaming content services are going after.
Just a few months ago, an additional $200 million was announced in its investment plan to help market its existing channels. Note that channels under YouTube’s Original Channel Initiative are given a “loan” that is paid back by the channels in advertising revenue until completion of the full loan without interest. But today’s announcement reveals that a portion of the $200 million will be invested in new programming, with some shows being offered multi-year contracts according to AllThingsD.
The latest channels, which you can see the full list on its page of original channels, are imports from France, Britain, and Germany. However there are a few new stateside-produced channels that made the cut as well.
Existing channels, on the other hand, are awaiting their fates under a year-by-year contract subject to renewal. It’s reported that channels will be hearing back from YouTube in a few weeks on whether or not they’ve been axed from the Channel Initiative. YouTube’s Original Channel Initiative is an experiment by YouTube that, suffice it to say, is the equivalent of putting more than 160 eggs into one basket with the hope that a handful would succeed — it’s like throwing mud at the wall and seeing what sticks. And it might be working.
So far YouTube is content with its investment. The platform’s efforts has fueled the demand for more programming and thus far contributed to netting more than 800 million users who are watching four billion hours of video each month – up from three billion earlier this year. And 25 channels are each accruing over one million views per week on average. Among the most successful include comedy channel, Sourcefed, and of course Machinima. YouTube also revealed that its partners are reaching the 100,000 subscriber mark five times faster than they were two years ago.
But in its efforts to make the push into original programming, YouTube has been subject to criticisms from its existing community of content creators. In its quest to take what was once a site filled with pop song parodies and low quality cat videos to a place for professionally-produced content, YouTube has arguably been pushing one-off content creators wayside. The company is focused on helping to promote channels under its initiative, while neglecting the very creators that have helped to grow the platform to today’s prominence.
While some creators are frustrated with the about face, other veteran YouTubers, like Freddy Wong, are taking advantage of the platform’s interesting in promoted content. Episodes from Video Game High School, Wong’s first standalone series, are first presented on his branded website, RocketJump.com, and then distributed to YouTube one week later, as Wong explained to Digital Trends in an earlier interview.
Despite the changes at YouTube, Wong advised creators against leaving the platform. “YouTube is the best place to go with the lowest barrier to entry and access to the greatest audience. If you’re trying to make a living off of making videos, YouTube should factor into your thinking,” Wong told Digital Trends.
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