YouTube giving the axe to 60% of its channels

Steven Loeb · November 12, 2012 · Short URL:

Channels were launched in October 2011 as a way for YouTube to get into original content

Remember in October of last year, when YouTube announced that it was going to be putting $100 million into creating original content, known as channels? 100 channels were originally launched, with another 60 launched last month.

Well, it has been over a year since the initial launch and the contracts for those channels are now up. Google will be offering new contracts to some of the channel programmers and creators it signed up in the last year, but, according to AllThingsD, it will only be renewing 40% of them.

The renewals will start with those channels that launched in January 2012, and will close follow the same deals that YouTube made with the programmers last year: giving them $5 million to produce original videos.

If a channel is not renewed, that does not mean it will be removed from YouTube, it just won’t be YouTube that is funding the videos put on the channel. And for those channels that have not recouped YouTube’s $5 million, 100% of revenue will be collected until YouTube makes its money back. 

Some of the original channels created were from, WWE Fan Nation, The Wall Street Journal, Bleacher Report and American Hipster, as well as celebrities such as Shaquille O'Neal, Madonna and Ashton Kutcher.

You can see the complete list of channels here.

In an interview with Vator CEO Bambi Francisco back in May, Tom Sly, head of original programming at Google's YouTube, said that part of the reason for YouTube developing its own content was to increase the amount of time people spent on the site, since the average YouTube video is only 4 minutes and the average user is on the site five hours a month.

In the blog post last month, announcing the latest batch of channels, Robert Kyncl, VP, Global Head of Content at YouTube stated that channels were a success.

He wrote that YouTube’s top 25 original channels were averaging more than one million views a week, while 800 million people were watching 4 billion hours of content every month, up from 3 billion hours earlier in 2012.

On top of that, YouTube saw its number of subscribers double year to year, and saw its partners reach the 100,000 subscriber mark five times faster than two years earlier.

The reason that YouTube was launching channels, it said at the time, was  to bring an even broader range of entertainment to YouTube, giving you more reasons to keep coming back again and again. And for advertisers, these channels will represent a new way to engage and reach their global consumers."

Original content

Producing original content is the name of the game now, and YouTube is far from the only media website to try its hand it. Many of its competitors, including Hulu, Netflix and Amazon have also recently delved into the original content game.

In May, Amazon announced that it would be developing original comedy and children’s series for Instant Video, allowing anyone with an idea to submit a pitch.

It said that each month the company would pick one project, which would then be tested with an audience. If the series was picked up for a full series, the creator would receive a payment of $55,000 and up to 5% of the money made from licensing. So far, Amazon has chosen seven projects: four comedies and three children’s series.

Last month, Amazon launched Amazon Game Studios, as well as its first social game called Living Classics. The game features a family of foxes have to be reunited after wandering into scenes from classic literature, such as Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and King Arthur.

Last month, it launched its first mobile game, called Air Patriots.

Amazon also created its first digital comic, called Blackburn Burrow, in September. It described the comic as, “a story set in Civil War America where supernatural horrors are infesting a small Appalachian town in Northern Georgia.”

In January, Netflix debuted its first series, Lilyhammer, executive produced and starring Steven Van Zandt from The Sopranos. Netflix also succeeded in getting the rights to produce new episodes of Arrested Development, which will debut next year.

Hulu announced its first original series, called Battleground, a political comedy following a candidate for the Wisconsin Senate seat, that aired in February. In May, Hulu layed out a host of original series it would be producing during the summer, with shows ranging from comedy and sci-fi to travel and reality, including Spoilers, a movie talks show hosted by director Kevin Smith.

VatorNews contacted YouTube for confirmation, but has still not heard back.

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