Google Ups Video Ante, Bets $200 Mil To Market YouTube Channels

Google is making a big bet on original video content, unveiling a plan to back its YouTube channels initiative with $200 million in marketing support. The announcement, which was made Wednesday during its digital “NewFront” presentation, will support an initiative that Google’s YouTube began last fall with the rollout of 50 niche content channels, and more than 50 new channels will be added soon.

According to Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s head of global content, the video-sharing giant will spend the $200 million across Google sites and its advertising network to promote the channels.

In a call with reporters, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt explained why Google is placing such a big bet on original video content. “We’re about to see another large explosion in the use of video,” he said, adding that the video industry is in what he described as a “third wave” of transformation. The first wave was broadcast to cable, he said, while the second was cable to the Web.

Google’s plans were unveiled Wednesday night at New York’s Beacon Theatre during YouTube’s first-ever “upfront,” which refers to the annual television tradition in which media companies present their new programming lineups to advertisers in the hope that they will purchase ads.

YouTube’s presentation marked the end of the two-week series of so-called digital content “NewFronts,” or upfront sales pitches, from Web giants Hulu, Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft, YouTube and even a few traditional media companies like NBCUniversal and The Walt Disney Co.

During its presentation, YouTube featured three new channels that are part of the YouTube expansion: one about the lives of women, another about U.S. Olympians, and a third from Tribeca Film Enterprises.

The channel about the lives of women, called “WIGS,” will be comprised of series, documentaries, and other content. It comes from producer Jon Avnet (“Black Swan,” “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “Risky Business”), and director Rodrigo Garcia (“Albert Nobbs,” “In Treatment,” “Mother and Child”).

Some big Hollywood names are being linked to series on the channel, including Jennifer Garner, Virginia Madsen, Julia Stiles, Alison Janney, Caitlin Gerard, America Ferrera, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Beals, Michael C. Hall, Stephen Moyer and Alfred Molina.

In conjunction with the U.S. Olympic Committee, the “Team USA” channel, which AT&T is sponsoring, will feature content about present and past Olympians, and instruction from Olympic sport coaches, in addition to classic Olympics footage.

“The Picture Show” channel from Tribeca Enterprises, which produces the Tribeca Film Festival, and Maker Studios, will be a hub for online series, behind-the-scenes footage and short films. It will not show feature-length movies.

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