YouTube's $100M bet is about viewership, not return

Head of original programming, Tom Sly, on YouTube's original programming strategy

Entrepreneur interview by Bambi Francisco Roizen
May 14, 2012
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YouTube currently generates all of its revenue from advertising, but is considering adding a subscription component, a feature requested by many of its users. That's just one of the many tidbits I got from Tom Sly, head of original programming at Google's YouTube, who sat down with me recently. 

Sly also talks about YouTube's original programming strategy, which was announced last year when the video giant said it would sinking $100 million into 100 channels, or an average of $1 million per program. Sly said that YouTube is currently working with 47 channels, and hopes to reach the 100 mark by the end of this year. Sly said that creators of these programs own 100% of the IP. But YouTube has an exclusive ownership period to recoup its investment. After that period, YouTube and the producer enter a revenue-sharing arrangement.

Sly wouldn't disclose the economics, nor would he talk about whether YouTube had recouped any of its investments in any individual shows. Sly did say, however, that the $100 million strategy is about viewership, not a return on investment. 

Watch our interview to hear more about YouTube's strategy and about how YouTube is monetizing with advertisements, including one interesting fact that 60% of pre-rolls are skippable advertisements. 


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