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YouTube's Original Content Sinks or Swims: Underperforming Channels Get Cut as YouTube Looks for More Winners

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood August 27, 2012 at 4:28PM

YouTube is reportedly abandoning some of its less successful original content channels, while simultaneously launching new channels that fall in line with the company's content initiative. What establishes the criteria for a losing channel vs. a winning channel? Logged viewership time, and total number of views.
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Eric Rippert and Anthony Bourdain on YouTube's Reserve Channel
Eric Rippert and Anthony Bourdain on YouTube's Reserve Channel

YouTube is reportedly abandoning some of its less successful original content channels, while simultaneously launching new channels that fall in line with the company's content initiative. What establishes the criteria for a losing channel vs. a winning channel? Logged viewership time, and total number of views.

In 2011, YouTube invested $100 million in funding for 100 new, prestige channels, recruiting the likes of Ashton Kutcher, Amy Poehler, Jay-Z, Deepak Chopra, Rainn Wilson and Sophia Vergara for the projects. The New York Post reports that an eventual weeding-out of the have-nots from the haves was always part of the plan, and that YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar plans to cut a number of underperforming channels by the end of 2012.

Meanwhile, the Post quotes a channel partner: "By October or November, they’re going to be deciding on new people to fund," to the tune of $200 million in advertising for the new channels.

Which channels won't be under the gun? Warner Music's Warner Sound channel, and the travel-and-lifestyle Reserve Channel, which features a show hosted by chef Eric Rippert and guests like Anthony Bourdain, Stanley Tucci and Mario Batali, have been popular with YouTube users. And launched in June 2012, "The Fast and the Furious" director Justin Lin's YOMYOMF Network --based on the pop culture blog YouOffendMeYouOffendMyFamily--is the kind of YouTube property that has legs. The network's partners also include YouTube stars Ryan Higa, Kevin Wu and Chester See, who oversee both scripted and reality programming. "The Nerdist" and host/interviewer Chris Hardwick, who scored at this summer's Comic-Con, is a YouTube hit. Geek & Sundry comes from the producers of "The Guild."

Also doing well is John Avnet and Rodrigo Garcia's more traditional woman-oriented WIGS, the top channel for scripted dramas, which features 5-8 minute short films that portray a unique experience in a different woman's life. Jennifer Garner, Amanda Seyfried, Julia Stiles and Stephen Moyer are all involved in projects. The next installment on WIGS is "Vanessa & Jan," premiering September 3 and starring Caitlin Gerard and Laura Spencer in a speed-dating tale.

This article is related to: YouTube, Digital Future


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.