There's no doubt that Google has been focused on making YouTube more than just a source for home-made, user-generated videos. Over the last few years, YouTube launched original channels aimed at distributing professional-caliber video across a wide variety of subjects, and the company added paid subscription channels a few months ago. According to an in-depth report from The Financial Times, Google is now colliding with Hollywood in yet another way: last year, the company rented a huge, 41,000-square-foot building in Los Angeles. After making a "significant investment" in rehabbing the space (a vast hanger previously owned by Howard Hughes), Google has now started opening up the studio to its "content creators" — for free. "A [traditional] movie studio is closed," says YouTube's head of global content Robert Kyncl. "There is a gate and a guard and you can't get access to it. But here, you can."
The LA studio follows similar studios in London and Toyko, but not just anyone can show up and make a video here — according to YouTube, creators will need at least 10,000 followers, a consistent publishing schedule, over 100,000 views per month, and a number of other requirements. But those who can get in get to take advantage of elaborate sets, green screens, visual effects stations, make-up rooms, and more — professional-caliber facilities that don't cost them anything. While it sounds like a typically "Google" business model, there's no doubt that there's a big benefit for the company. The more Google can raise the quality of YouTube's content, the more advertisers it can attract, and the more it can charge for those ads.