Everybody wins in Disney's new partnership with Google's YouTube to produce original content — everybody except the cable companies, of course. The New York Times reports that two companies "will spend a combined $10 million to $15 million on original video series … produced by Disney and distributed on a co-branded channel on Disney.com and YouTube" that will also include some user-generated videos. Having aside a reported $100 million to invest in original content channels and recent moves to offer cable service, Google is going to bat for a bigger share of the multi-billion dollar TV advertising dollars. Given last week's launch of 100 other channels for original content, including partnerships with everyone from eHow to The Wall Street Journal, it looks like YouTube is swinging for the fences. And it's just getting started.
On November 9, YouTube will announce the participants in a third new original content program. Based on tracking search terms, the YouTube Trends team is identifying, supporting and promoting the most influential YouTube channels in certain areas as part of a 12-week program that will also integrate Google+ features. YouTube recently told The Atlantic Wire that cooking and exercise related searches spike during the holiday season so the first two rounds of trend-related programming will focus on those topics with YouTube Next Chef and YouTube Next Trainer, which feature cooking channels and exercise channels, respectively. During the program, YouTube will help these users produce better content and more of it by offering everything from editing software to promoting their content on YouTube and building their brands via scheduled Hangouts on Google+.
Inevitably all of Google's original content strategies converge on brand building. Many of the companies listed companies listed as launch partners for YouTube's 100 new original content channels — content companies like Vice, Pitchfork and I — host video on their own site but are using YouTube to build their audience. Though we don't know all of the details yet, YouTube's deal with Disney sounds like a home run for both companies in this regard. The Times's Brooks Barnes reports on the upsides for each of the brands:
Disney, currently working on yet another overhaul of its Web site, is conceding that its own brand is not a powerful enough draw among children looking for video online; YouTube is viewed as being cooler. …
YouTube hopes to gain something from the Disney brand as well, namely credibility among parents, many of whom aren't thrilled at setting their younger children loose on a site where the videos can be ragged and provocative and the comments even more so.
When it comes to high-quality video, it's hard to find a better brand partner than Disney. As far as the quantity of raw content is concerned, YouTube's 100 new channels make the Disney deal look like the minor leagues, however. The sheer breadth of topics covered in the new channel strategy will rival the number of options in any basic cable plan, and with Google's advertising savvy and the internet's superior analytics, YouTube looks to be leaning hard on its competitive advantage. A big part of that advantage, as indicated with the new Trends program, is the ability to provide an interactive experience that can give the audience exactly what they want, when they want it.
Obviously, cable companies are paying attention to YouTube's move into the original content sphere and are responding to it. The New York Post reported on Monday that Dish Networks is considering launching original content to its subscribers under the newly acquired Blockbuster brand. At this point, though, it's all experimentation, and one analyst told the Post that Dish's new program is "a little more science project than consumer offering." Time will tell whether YouTube's content efforts gain traction (and win ad dollars), but in the near term, it looks like their plan to disrupt is working like a charm.