YouTube promises 'new formats' as it invests in its top creators

Online video service will ‘get our hands dirty’ as it kicks off a new round of funding for the most popular You Tubers. YouTube has promised to “get our hands dirty” with a new round of investment to help its most popular stars experiment with new shows and formats.

The move follows previous investments in original channels and creators on Google’s online video service, as well as high-profile advertising campaigns in 2014 for channels including Bethany Mota and Epic Rap Battles of History.

“We feel the time is right to make another important investment in our creators,” wrote head of YouTube originals Alex Carloss in a blog post announcing the new initiative.

“That’s why we’ve decided to fund new content from some of our top creators, helping them not only fulfill their creative ambitions but also deliver new material to their millions of fans on YouTube.”

Carloss was previously global head of entertainment for YouTube, so his new job title indicates the priority the company is putting on its new investment drive.

However, his blog post was conspicuously short on detail, with no information on which creators YouTube is planning to work with, or how much money it has set aside for the initiative.

“As any creator will tell you, making compelling new content isn’t easy, and we expect to learn a lot through this process. We’ll experiment with new formats and ideas. We’ll get our hands dirty. We’ll make some mistakes,” he wrote. “Together, we’ll (hopefully) create some fantastic new content on YouTube.”

Technology news site Recode suggests that YouTube will foot the production bills for new shows, including “pairing talent with more traditional Hollywood producers”, citing one producer claiming they have been offered “single-digit millions” to fund a 10-part series.

YouTube launched its first original channels drive in October 2011 in the US, with a budget of $100m to invest in channels from YouTubers and traditional producers alike. In October 2012, it expanded the initiative to Europe.

“Eighty-six of those channels are now among the top 1 percent of YouTube’s most popular, but the real sign of success was the massive global fan base our creators built,” wrote Carloss this week.

Some of those channels have been singled out in the US this year for advertising campaigns in traditional media – TV, print and billboards – paid for by YouTube. According to Carloss, this marketing program will now extend to the UK, France, Germany and Brazil, among other countries.

Some of this activity may be stepping on the toes of the multi-channel networks (MCNs) who run networks of YouTubers, including funding and promoting their videos.

The vast majority of popular YouTube stars are signed to MCNs like Maker Studios and Fullscreen, but the offer of funding and promotion from YouTube itself could be an incentive for their biggest stars to consider going it alone.

Recent analysis by The Guardian of monthly YouTube charts produced by analytics firm OpenSlate and industry site Tubefilter revealed that the monthly view-count for the top 100 YouTube channels has grown by 80.5% over the last year.

In July 2013, the service’s 100 biggest channels notched up 5.24bn views, but that figure had risen to 9.45bn by July 2014.



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