Business Technology

Saturday 17 February 2018

YouTube takes aim at TV stations’ audience with 60 new channels

TV chef Jamie Oliver
TV chef Jamie Oliver

YOUTUBE is taking aim at traditional TV stations with the launch of 60 new channels featuring online-only programmes made by some of the UK’s most respected production companies.

The online video service is best known for short clips uploaded by members of the public, but has ploughed around €115m into channels filled with programmes from companies that ordinarily make shows for the likes the BBC and ITV.

The BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, and Big Brother creator Endemol have both agreed to make shows for YouTube, part of the Google empire, whilst Fresh One, the television firm owned by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, will produce an entire channel built around his output.

A YouTube spokesman said the company was trying to “lure television advertisers and viewers”.

Each channel will focus on a different subject, such as sport or food, although some are significantly better served than others. There will be six different car channels, ten beauty channels, and a dozen comedy channels, including one produced by The Onion, the satirical magazine.

Many of the channels are backed by print publications, which are hungry to prop up sliding revenues by expanding their brands to different formats.

The company has dipped its toe in original content before, launching a slew of US channels in October last year. However, this is the first time it has signed up so many of Britain’s production firms.

It began courting the television industry in August last year, telling delegates at the Edinburgh Television Festival that it was in the market for their content, and that they ignored “the internet at their peril”.

YouTube’s 800m viewers watch a total of 4bn hours of footage on the platform each month, and while the top 25 US YouTube channels each attract more than a million viewers a week.

Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s global head of content, said: “Some of the most successful formats on TV come from Europe. The expansion of original channels in Europe allows more content creators of all stripes, from top producers to talented up-and-comers, to build their audiences all over the world.”

Earlier this year, Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of News Corporation founder Rupert Murdoch, warned that YouTube posed an increasing threat to broadcasters.

“YouTube is beginning to behave like a market leader. Believe at your own risk that their platform is based on homemade videos of cats in washing machines. This is now a platform that showcases people like Ray William Johnson who makes over $1m a year from his comedy channel with over 5m subscribers,” she said.

By Katherine Rushton

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