MIPTV: YouTube will replicate its roll-out of original channels in the US across the pond this autumn and has begun accepting pitches from UK media companies, C21 understands.
The Google-owned online video giant supported the launch of around 100 channels stateside towards the end of 2011, reportedly investing some US$100m in advances to help get these off the ground.
It is thought that YouTube’s European plans will initially focus on the UK and the budget and scale of its ambitions will reflect the smaller size of the market. According to sources, the company is planning a more modest 20-channel line-up, backed by around £10m (US$16m) of seed funding spread among them.
Simmons and his team have been in Cannes this week continuing discussions with production companies and others.
FremantleMedia and Shine Group, both of which were among the 100 channel partners in the US, are expected to pitch for the UK version of the initiative, as is pretty much every other prodco in the territory, All3Media, Endemol, Hat Trick, and Zodiak Media among them.
A string of newspaper and magazine publishers already active in online video will also have the chance to apply for the funds that will help them run YouTube channels spanning categories such as music, comedy, news and politics, football and others.
Successful applicants will have to show that not only can they provide quality content but that they can also actually manage a YouTube channel effectively – a skillset not all indie producers possess in-house.
Some, such as All3Media, already run their own YouTube channel activities, while others, for example Hat Trick, rely on third parties to do this on their behalf.
Three UK-based YouTube channel management specialists – Base79 (fka MyVideoRights), ChannelFlip (bought out by Shine in January) and Diagonal View – are therefore likely to play a significant role. The first of these counts YouTube EMEA senior director of content partnerships Patrick Walker among its investors and board members.
Asked about YouTube’s European channel plans during a panel session here in Cannes, Walker’s colleague Jed Simmons refused to be drawn. “We’re looking at it,” was all he would say, even though as one source put it to C21 “half the people in the audience had already been briefed.”
The UK channel roll-out is expected to begin in the autumn. Around the same time, Sony is due to start selling Android-powered Google TV devices in Europe, according to a report in French newspaper Les Echos earlier this week. The two developments are thought to be unrelated, however.