YouTube Reportedly Forking Out $100M For TV-Esque Content

The world’s foremost video-sharing playground may be more or less enough for its users, who want nothing more than to put their freestyles and kitten videos online, but it’s still on its way to becoming the money-making machine Google wants it to be. And while hamsters eating popcorn garner millions of views, they’re not the easiest to sell targeted ads for, and that’s where the money is.

So according to the Wall Street Journal and its mysterious “people familiar with the matter,” YouTube is finalizing a big content push with studios and networks, laying out $100 million to get some exclusive and high-quality content. Also, something probably related to The X-Factor.

The WSJ mentions some potential partners, which I am putting in a list here for clarity purposes:


  • Tony Hawk
  • Warner Bros
  • News Corp’s ShineReveille
  • FremantleMedia Ltd
  • BermanBraun
  • Electus
  • Everyday Health Inc
  • Iconic Entertainment LLC
  • DECA
  • Verso Entertainment

The Wall Street Journal also reports that “The Wall Street Journal may also produce news content for a YouTube channel, another person familiar with the matter said.” I almost expected a “Disclosure: The Wall Street Journal is the Wall Street Journal.” (they disclose their News Corp connection)

The shows associated with these companies (X-Factor, Mob Wives, Ugly Betty) are fairly traditional cable fare, and likely they will be producing similar things for YouTube. “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” seems to be the strategy here, and the next two years will probably see quite a few medium-budget reality series, some traditional comedy, and probably some gameshow/performance things with handy built-in voting and other rich tools.

The issue is that right now ad rates for YouTube are bargain bin prices. A few recurring shows with a million solid views each (or whatever number is cool these days) could be a wedge to lure some advertising cash away from the lucrative cable-TV market. And the producers involved aren’t going to turn down a little extra money to fire off a few more pilots.