By Jared Newman | Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm
After failing to become a hub for Hollywood content, Google’s YouTube may be spending millions of dollars on its own professional videos, without help from networks.
The Wall Street Journal’s unnamed sources say YouTube is planning a major redesign focused on “channels.” To that end, the company will reportedly spend up to $100 million to commission low-budget, professional content. Roughly 20 of the channels will host several hours of original programming per week, the Journal reports.
The goal is to turn YouTube from a workday time waster into a living room fixture. YouTube once tried to wade into premium content, with a redesign emphasizing movies and TV from big studios, but the Journal says YouTube didn’t want to spend the licensing fees to compete with Netflix. Last month, YouTube acquired Next Now Networks, a producer of small-scale, professional web video content.
But content isn’t the only thing that’s lacking when you try to rely on the Internet for video. You’ll also miss the passive viewing of television, where you can just pick a channel and get a steady stream of content without any effort. Perhaps that’s where the redesign comes in, but the Journal doesn’t say whether the “channels” will be like the passive viewing experiences you find on television or something else entirely. I’ll be disappointed if they’re just glorified categories.
YouTube’s set-top boxes may be getting an overhaul as well. In February, the company posted job ads seeking engineers for a “next-generation console-based TV experience.”
Whatever happens, the Journal says it’s not happening overnight. YouTube reportedly plans to phase in its changes over time, starting before the end of the year.