YouTube has announced it will launch hundreds of hours of original programming in January of 2012 featuring some Hollywood’s biggest stars. While the site will continue to be home to millions of user-generated videos, Google hopes YouTube Original Channels will provide an alternative source for viewing unique video on the internet.
In an effort to increase viewership, YouTube will launch hundreds of channels of original video in order to broaden the range of entertainment available.
What will change?
Similar to television in quality and style, this content will be delivered as episodes and organized into channels with scheduled programming across 18 various content genres. The categories will range from home & garden to sports and appeal to a wide range of audiences.
To keep viewers engaged and returning to the channels, episodes will launch in three waves – January, April & July. Currently, YouTube is planning to launch 40-60 hours of new content per channel each year. By the end of 2012, each channel will average 535 new episodes.
With a reported estimated budget of $100 million, Google has signed on a long list of celebrities, musicians and professional athletes to produce and star in the shows hoping to attract a large audience. The current roster includes Rainn Wilson, Shaquille O’Neal, Madonna and Amy Poehler and much more while trusted media outlets such as Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Everyday Health have also joined.
YouTube is also planning to socialize Original Channels to promote sharing of this content. Reports indicate users may be able to find content from the celebrities they follow on Google+ and Twitter as well as share their favorite shows & episodes with friends.
What This Means for Marketers
The launch of Original Channels is great news for marketers who are looking for new and innovative ways to increase brand awareness through digital video.
The variety of categories and some of the biggest names in television programming will likely attract a broad audience and keep users interested. Channel genres will be similar to cable television channels where marketers can cherry pick specific genres that will appeal to difference audiences from African Americans to Teens to Moms.
With this release, YouTube will further differentiate its self from the competition because of the lack of professionally produced original video on the internet. While other video content providers such as Hulu exist and will compete for viewership, they offer stale reruns which will not keep users coming back in the long run. Original Channels will also be able to leverage YouTube’s existing integration into household devices by being available on laptops, tablets, mobile devices and even Google TV.
YouTube Original Channels will offer marketers a variety of ad units. Ads will be similar to commercials on television today with marketers having the option of choosing between “in-stream” (auto-playing commercials) or “in-slate” ad where viewers have the option of choosing the commercial they choose to watch. YouTube will also allow marketers to purchase banners that appear on Original Channels and overlay ads that appear within the programming, encouraging click through to a brand’s website.
To ensure marketers can gain learnings and measure the performance of the media buy, YouTube will allow marketers to integrate YouTube Insights to collect data on viewers who have been exposed to the advertisement.
With all these benefits, YouTube Original Channels is a great way to reach a specific audience that might not be available through other content video providers on the internet.
As more Americans are cancelling their cable subscriptions and using the internet for their primary video consumption needs, YouTube has developed what can be described as a free television system over the internet. As many have learned, when you offer consumers anything that is free over the internet, they will follow. If the free product is great, it will become a hit. It has happened many times before with examples such as Facebook, Gmail and even the original YouTube portal. These trends indicate YouTube Original Channels will be a hit as well.