Is Google Really Diving Into Video Content Production?

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cameraguy.jpgWhen Google bought video content monetizer and syndicator Next New Networks (NNN) for YouTube last month, most media coverage suggested Big G was going to leap into the video content creation game. Google denied this, and it didn’t make much sense anyway as NNN has a tiny studio but is known for its ability to hook up online video creators and advertisers to produce and syndicate branded content.

However, The Wall Street Journal has a few anonymous sources saying that YouTube will spend $100 million on low-cost programming specifically produced for the web. YouTube spokespeople declined to comment.

The new content would be part of a major overhaul of the most popular online video site to make it a better experience for those tuning in on their Internet-enabled TVs. According to WSJ’s sources, YouTube’s homepage will be reorganized to highlight “channels” dedicated to various verticals, including arts and sports. Many channels will consist of posted content, but 20 or so will feature several hours of “professionally produced original programming” a week, WSJ reported.

Google has been chatting with the National Basketball Association and other sports leagues about live-streaming games, which could be a super boon for viewership. The company has also been talking with Hollywood talent agencies — including Creative Artists Agency, William Morris Endeavor and International Creative Management — about content creation for the aforementioned channels.

Apparently Google wants YouTube to compete with broadcast and cable channels — but I don’t understand why. YouTube is a haven for user-generated content — users head there for that specific reason, even if they’re watching on a television set. With the NNN acquisition, Google had a talent agency for hooking up its UGC stars with brands — such branded content is where the real money is made in online video, hence why Google wanted a cut of the action.

But putting $100 million toward original video content seems a little puzzling. Such a paltry amount of spend isn’t really enough to make products that can “compete” with broadcast and cable television — not 20 channels worth, anyway. The fact that no one will go on the record about it makes me all the more specious.

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