Last Friday YouTube announced it had formalized plans to produce multiple channels offering original programming from major musical artists, actors and companies. Everyone from the Wall Street Journal to superstar Madonna will be producing original programming for YouTube which anticipates the effort will result in a huge surge in viewers.
YouTube has made no secret of the fact it planned to pursue a course of offering original programming. They have set in motion a slow progressive to be something more akin to an Internet television network than just a purveyor of videos. This move surely has some television executives wondering what the future will bring for their industry. If they haven’t been giving this a great deal of thought they are in for a surprise, as more and more viewers are turning to YouTube for their video entertainment.
It helps YouTube‘s effort that their programming is keyed to be available to an assortment of devices including smartphones, tablet pcs, laptops and of course, the traditional home computer. YouTube is also available for viewing on some Internet capable televisions.
As YouTube reached further into television territory televisions has steadfastly refused to do the same. Instead of embracing existing video sites they have begun offering some programs on their own sites. Hit ABC dramedy “Castle” has created a legion of devoted fans who can now tune in to missed episodes which are made available with limited commercial interruptions the day after they air on network television. A few other hit shows are also offered online, but no major television studio has yet produced original content strictly for airing on the Internet.
Part of the resistance of television to Internet programming has to do with a lack of easily integrated revenue models. Television (as with the print news industry) doesn’t know how to reckon its existing ad-generated revenue model with an internet-ready revenue model. This has caused them to delay making any transition while YouTube has surged ahead.
Eventually television executives will need to adapt to the Internet revenue generating model or face a competitor with more viewers and more original content, leaving traditional television to fill the role of runner-up…
Most see this is as a challenge to the television industry. In a way it is. But not a simple move to go head-to-head with CBS on your living room screen, though let’s consider that first. It’s no mistake Google also announced on Friday new efforts to revive Google TV. And take a look at YouTube Leanback and you will see plans for doing serious integration on your regular television.
But, more importantly, it’s a jump toward “quality entertainment” on any screen. You might have noticed that YouTube is crazy good at showing up everywhere: Your phone, your tablet, your laptop, your desktop and more commonly, your actual TV. They’ve achieved this while traditional channels gingerly tread into those platforms, because a dive-in might screw up revenue models. YouTube has no such concern.
But there is a risk for YouTube. Whether the intention is there or not, YouTube may be moving its primary culture from social media to a mass media that will have an integrated and proven social component. This is no small change. Recruiting channels to your platform is very different than what YouTube has generally done, which is cultivate opt-in partnerships from amateur or professional media companies wanting to live inside the YouTube ecosystem.
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