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Google gearing up original YouTube programming

The Web giant will announce as early as next week that it has inked deals with several content creators, a new report claims.

YouTube will soon offer its own original programming, The Wall Street Journal reported today, citing anonymous sources.

According to the Journal, Google could announce original programming exclusive to YouTube as early as next week. The Journal's sources said that Google has inked deals with InterActiveCorp's Electus, News Corp., and "CSI" creator Anthony Zuiker to create content for its site. Celebrity skateboarder Tony Hawk has also reportedly signed a deal with Google.

Reports of Google trying to bring original content to YouTube first cropped up in April. At the time, the Journal reported that the company was investing $100 million in original content, and would create about 20 "premium channels" featuring 5 to 10 hours of original programming each week. At the time, a YouTube representative declined to comment on the rumor, but did say that the company is "always working on updating the site and improving the general user experience and interface."

However, all signs pointed to the possibility of Google getting into the original-content game back in March when the company announced the acquisition of Next New Networks, a video production firm that, YouTube said at the time, would work "in a hands-on way with a wide variety of content partners and emerging talent to help them succeed on YouTube."

If YouTube does, in fact, release original content, it would mark a significant shift for the site. Over the years, YouTube has relied on third-party content and has consistently said that it's not in the original-content game. But according to the Journal's sources, Google has designs on becoming a "next-generation cable provider" and has shifted its focus. Independent data released this week actually reflects a shift in consumer habits, with Internet video consumption starting to rival cable.

YouTube did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.