TechCrunch’s Marshall Kirpatrick reports that YouTube tomorrow will unveil a number of branded commercial channels– including a Paris Hilton channel being featured on the homepage. This is a surprising and encouraging move from a video site that hasn’t shown any other interesting way to profit from its incredible appeal. Fox has paid an undisclosed sum to advertise on YouTube and build custom channels, and it appears other media players (like NBC) are starting to take YouTube seriously.
So what’s next?
First, YouTube will have to figure out how to keep viewers at YouTube.com. The networks, despite what they’re telling YouTube right now, will constantly fight to dissintermediate YouTube. That way they can evolve past promoting their own shows… and start selling advertising space around their online content. Can you imagine how hard it will be for Fox to split ad revenue with YouTube when the ads surround Fox content? Sooner or later Fox will say- “why do I need you, tube?”
Second, we’ll probably see some fee-base channels evolve. I don’t see a sustainable pay-for-view model with YouTube alone, but if it partners well it could move that direction. Then Paris can charge for her nude videos… oh, wait… too late.
Third (and most importantly) what does it mean to us amateur video folks? Like Google Video, YouTube is focusing on large advertising deals with major content providers. Our viral stuff isn’t where the real action is yet. But here’s the good news (this is still me talking, but I’m drop quoting for emphasis):
YouTube needs to maintain “consumer generated content” to keep people returning to the site and avoid being dissintermediated by large content owners (Disney, Fox, Time Warner). Beyond some cool functionality and traffic (which is fickle), the amateur video content is the only edge YouTube has over Big Media.
So I would suspect YouTube is going to start sharing ad revenue with select creators that have Director accounts. The content will have more rigorous screening process (to ensure people don’t make ad revenue from video clips they ripped from the Daily Show), and will be vetted to ensure the content won’t embarass an advertiser. YouTube can start with me. I’m seeing WireFly ads on my little user page. How about a little CPC sharing?
Stay tuned. It’s getting more interesting by the day.