It has the familiar video player interface, the infrastructure, the millions of loyal viewers, and the willing and ready advertisers, but in terms of original studio-produced content, YouTube lags behind Hulu, Netflix, and other TV and movie streaming websites. Google wants to change that and is prepared to whip out $100 million to entice someone to start producing original content that will be competitive with the big networks.
We knew the days of YouTube being only a medium for dancing cats and talking babies was long gone, but with this shift, it seems Google finally means business when it comes to challenging the competition. It intends to setup a new homepage feature for YouTube that will highlight its professionally-produced original content channels. The user-generated content will stay, of course, turning YouTube into a very unique type of TV network.
This news comes only weeks after Netflix announced its deal to produce its first original show, “House of Cards”, starring Kevin Spacey, and YouTube already has tested the waters with an original movie, “Girl Walks Into A Bar”, which includes big Hollywood names like Carla Cugino, Zachary Quinto, Danny DeVito, and Rosario Dawson.
Nevertheless, the movie’s 459,206 views pale in comparison to some of the wildest user-generated content. That may mean YouTube viewers will need to be reconditioned to think of YouTube as a viable Netflix/Hulu/Amazon alternative.
According to some, the geeks at Google may not be accustomed to the type of schmoozing required to win content licenses from big Hollywood studios and TV networks, something Netflix is forced to endure on a regular basis. By taking the middle ground, paying less for original content, YouTube may position itself as a real player in this market, without losing its soul.
With its own loyal user content creators and its own premium shows, the day may come when the featured guest star on the Internet’s latest hit TV show will be you, your cat, or your baby. The possibilities are only limited by Google’s creativity and its bank account.