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YouTube aims to seize Web video growth with Hollywood content

YouTube's Robert Kyncl tells a Consumer Electronics Show audience that the rapid growth in online video viewership and production is creating massive opportunities.

YouTube's Robert Kyncl giving a keynote address at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show James Martin/CNET

LAS VEGAS--Maybe it's a sign that the Consumer Electronics Show is winding down when the keynote speeches start to state the obvious and break no news.

In the final keynote of this year's massive confab, Robert Kyncl, vice president of global content partnerships at YouTube, told a packed Las Vegas Hilton Theater this morning that online video is massive and growing, and that marketers are figuring out ways to harness it. Kyncl noted that YouTube attracts 800 million viewers per month, who watch 3 billion hours of video in that time.

With that growth, YouTube sees huge financial opportunity. Cute cat videos are fine, but there's real money to be made in professional productions.

That why, four months ago, YouTube pumped $100 million into a fund to create original content for the site. The company has already shelled out some of that cash for programming from well-known names such as actor Rainn Wilson, spiritualist Deepak Chopra, and comic book writer Stan Lee.

The growth creates opportunities that didn't exist only a few years ago. Kyncl told the story of Michelle Phan, "one of the rising stars of YouTube." She created videos for the site to help women apply makeup. About 1.4 million viewers tune into each episode, twice as many as those who watch an average episode of programming on the Style channel, Kyncl said. Phan's programs have gained enough of a following that cosmetics giant Lancome now sponsors her show.

"All of these channels are only getting started," Kyncl said. "They are only scratching the surface."

After Kyncl finished his keynote, a panel of YouTube creators and partners took the stage to talk up the site and the opportunity. Anthony Zuiker, who created the "CSI" franchise, said creators of home-grown videos shouldn't worry that the boost in professionally produced content on YouTube will elbow them aside.

"We have a very talented country that we live in. Some of the best pieces of content I've ever witnessed have been on YouTube," Zuiker said. "Their talents are going to influence what we do."