By Sahil Patel
It might be the worst-kept secret in the online video industry; a few years after making a big splash in financing original content, YouTube is back at it again. (Or, more accurately, the site never quite stopped.)
Multiple sources confirm that YouTube in recent months has approached a slew of Hollywood producers and agencies, and even YouTube-native content makers to create more premium programming for the site.
News of YouTube approaching Hollywood producers and agencies was first reported by Reuters.
It’s not exactly a new development at the online video giant. YouTube has been pretty active in backing original content and providing production support over the past couple of years. For instance, the site operates multiple “YouTube Spaces” where content makers can go to access all sorts of development and production resources. What’s different now, according to sources, is that there seems to be a more focused strategy at play.
YouTube is approaching the creation of new content with two main criteria: 1) That all new programs feature creators who have already established a large audience on YouTube, and 2) That YouTube — naturally — will have exclusive rights to the programming.
That said, YouTube won’t gate the content forever. The site will indeed have the first window, but it’s also interested in funding projects that can be repackaged to succeed on other platforms, including SVOD and television — where long-form reigns.
It’s not just web series, either. Sources tell us that YouTube could also put money behind “low-budget” feature films, possibly spurred on by the success of “Camp Takota,” which starred the trio of Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart, and Mamrie Hart.
That said, with all of this still being in the exploratory stages, the types of creators YouTube works with, and the type of projects that are produced as a result, could still greatly vary.
In terms of funding, Reuters’ report indicates that YouTube might front $1 million to $3 million for the production of a new programming, and would provide some marketing support as well. That’s in line with what sources have told us, with some opting for the $2 million to $4 million range.
On a broader level, though, news that YouTube is interested in bringing more premium content to its site shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone. Consider what the site has already done in 2014: In addition to launching traditional and out-of-home media marketing campaigns for top YouTube talent, the site reorganized its ad-network structure with the launch of Google Preferred, which places a premium on top-performing channels.
Regardless of how you view YouTube’s original investment in premium programming, the site has never backed away from pursuing TV-ad dollars. This development is just the latest in that long-running strategy.
When reached for comment, a YouTube spokesperson said: “We are always exploring various content and marketing ideas to support and accelerate our creators,” declining to comment further on the site’s plans.