Google announced in May that it would spend some $200 million on marketing premium YouTube channels in order to attract premium content and advertisers, and today the Wall Street Journal has checked in on the program's progress. Channel partners have thus far had mixed success creating content for YouTube, but they're rapidly learning how to deliver effective premium content on the platform.
MyISH director Larry Aidem told the Journal that "the audience wasn't big on talking heads," so he hired a familiar YouTube personality to deliver more mainstream news. As it happens our sister site SBNation operates a premium YouTube channel, and Chad Mumm, Executive Director at Vox Studios, had similar comments about the challenges and successes of online video.
"Smaller, more reactive video spots ended up being more approachable to our viewers."
Mumm said that "initially, we focused on creating mini TV-shows that encompassed more than one topic, but we found that smaller, more reactive video spots ended up being more approachable to our viewers." Mumm and his team have seen double-digit growth in views since they switched to more easily-digestible content published on regular basis, which gets shared on social networks and other websites.
On the other hand, Mumm said that long-form pieces that dive deep into a topic have also seen steady growth, calling them "blockbuster journalism." He said "our longer-form videos have a very high production value, and viewers respond well to that. When we get a chance to take apart a topic, even if it's only between five and ten minutes, we get the chance to show our viewers a product that leverages our talents as journalists."
Although it's too early to call YouTube's program a resounding success, the company's $200 million investment demonstrates a commitment to creating a new media distribution platform. YouTube Global Head of Content Robert Kyncl told the Journal that channels have seen "very healthy growth" and that there are 10 premium channels that average more than one million views per week. Funded channels offer "brand safe" havens for advertisers, and Kyncl said that YouTube users currently watch a billion more hours of video than they did earlier this year, indicating a steadily increasing stream of advertising revenue.
Update: an earlier version of this story included the Wall Street Journal's report that Google said it was investing "another $200 million to market the channels" in addition to previously announced support. A source familiar with the matter tells us that is incorrect, the only announced marketing support was the original $200 million Google announced in May.