Services & Software

YouTube fires $200M broadside at Big Media

Google digs into its famously deep pockets to promote YouTube channels with more original content this year -- and there's more where that came from.

When Google bought YouTube in 2006, CEO Eric Schmidt described it as "the beginning of an Internet video revolution." At the time, there was no shortage of skepticism over whether Google had instead just committed a $1.6 billion mistake.

Some say there's still no clear answer. Google has never said whether YouTube is profitable. A couple of years ago, Schmidt said he believed that YouTube would be profitable that year, but there's been not a peep since.

But that focus may be unduly narrow, especially considering YouTube's explosive growth. A recent report out of Comscore ranks YouTube as the second leading video ad property by video ads viewed. Maybe "monetization" can wait, as it's been clear for some time that this hot property is only getting hotter.

So it was that Wednesday evening, YouTube turned on the glitz for agency execs attending a star-studded gathering at New York's Beacon theater, as it announced plans to spend $200 million to bring more professional content to its Google Content Network. In his pitch to the audience, Google's Robert Kyncl said the company intended to "will fish where the fish are in a mighty big pond."

"If you want to lead, join us now for the next seven years. We can build audiences together," Ad Age quoted Kyncl. "We can build brands together."

Nancy Messieh notes that the service has already launched channels featuring the likes of Madonna and Felicia Day and more are coming from Shaquille O'Neal and Rainn Wilson, among others.

Filmmaker Jon Avnet, known for Black Swan, Fried Green Tomatoes and Risky Business has joined forces with Rodrigo Garcia, known for Albert Nobbs, In Treatment, Mother and Child to launch WIGS, a YouTube channel producing drama series and short films about the lives of women. Pretty big names are finding themselves in front of the cameras as well, including Julia Stiles, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Garner and Alfred Molina.

Clearly, this is no longer the little start-up that could. The goal this year is to put up 25 hours' worth of original content every day. And naturally, a Jay Z video of his performance shortly thereafter made its way to YouTube.