A few weeks ago, the rumor mill on the Internet spilled out news that YouTube was preparing to launch a new slate of original video programming in a more "TV network" style format. Late on Friday, YouTube finally confirmed those rumors and also posted up a preview site showing the many new and original shows that are planned for this new format.
In a note on its blog, YouTube said the goal of this new effort was to "bring an even broader range of entertainment to YouTube, giving you more reasons to keep coming back again and again." It's clear that YouTube sees its vast worldwide audience as the perfect way to introduced more structured original programming, much like a cable TV network, rather than depend on user submitted videos of cute cats or people getting hit in the nether regions.
The Wall Street Journal says the plan is to offer up 25 original hours of programming a day when YouTube fully launches its plans in 2012 (although some shows will begin as early as November). While Google won't officially say what they are paying the people behind the shows, the story claims that the company is spending over $100 million to launch this effort.
The preview page shows that "YouTube TV" (that's not what YouTube is calling it but it will do until the company comes up with a better name) has plans to launch as many as 96 channels. The channels claim involvement from people like Jay Z (Life + Times), Tony Hawk (RIDE Channel), Stan Lee (Stan Lee's World of Heroes), Deepak Chopra (The Chopra Well) Ashton Kutcher (The Thrash Lab) and Internet video celeb Felicia Day (Geek and Sundry ... we have no idea what that might mean).
So should cable networks and cable and satellite providers be worried about YouTube's efforts? It all depends, as it always does, on content. If the shows are just some throwaway pieces of video made with little regard to quality, then this project will fail. However, if these new shows are well made and bring something to the table that people want to watch, then we could finally see the Internet video business make inroads in the huge television industry.