It’s been nearly a year since YouTube announced its plan to invest $100 million to launch 100 premium channels with the likes of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and The Wall Street Journal, and now many of those contracts are up for renewal. But the majority of those original channels will not receive additional funds from the Google-owned video site.
YouTube will begin sending out new contracts this week, but only between 30% and 40% of channel owners should expect to receive them, we were told.
Jamie Byrne, YouTube’s director of content strategy, told AllThingsD that engagement — specifically, watch time — and cost efficiency were the two biggest factors in determining who will be given more money and who won’t.
Channels that are already generating a sufficient amount of advertising revenue, and thus don’t need additional funds from Google, will also be left out of the contract pool, we were told.
Last fall, producers received as much as $5 million in advances from YouTube to develop content, according to AllThingsD. (Google declined to confirm that number.)
The funds have allowed many companies to develop new, more experimental kinds of programming. IGN, for instance, developed a series of reality TV-style gaming shows to attempt to develop a new genre of gaming-themed entertainment that appealed to mainstream viewers — i.e., people who weren’t necessarily serious gamers, the company told me during an office visit last year.
And what will happen to the channels that don’t receive fresh funding? YouTube told AllThingsD it hopes they’ll continue to publish work to the site. The company will also continue to collect ad revenue on videos from channels that haven’t broken even on YouTube’s investment.
Looking at AdAge‘s and Deadline‘s rankings of most-viewed premium channels, it appears that the same kind of content that performs well elsewhere on the site — namely, humor, sports and how-tos — have worked in the premium category, too. It will be interesting to see whether YouTube will continue to fund some of the more “serious” programming channels — like The WSJ Video Network, which ranked 25th on AdAge‘s chart and 28th on Deadline‘s, or The Intelligent Channel, which ranked 113th and 101st, respectively.
Meanwhile, YouTube continues to invest in new channels. The company announced earlier this year that it was putting an addition $200 million into the project, adding 60 more channels in the process.