YouTube takes original programming venture abroad

Friday, October 5, 2012, Vol. 36, No. 40

LONDON (AP) — YouTube is taking its original programming venture to Europe, announcing a slew of new partnerships aimed at internationalizing its array of tailor-made videos with content from Britain's BBC, London-based FreemantleMedia, Netherland's Endemol, and dozens of others.

The Google Inc.-owned video site said Monday it is launching more than 60 new video channels with content from Britain, Germany, France, and the United States. The new programming will be in addition to the 100 channels of content launched in the United States last year.

Like the pre-existing American offerings, the European channels will have a mix of celebrity-oriented, niche, and established programming.

"Some of the channels are personality-driven, others are from partners who are totally passionate about a subject," Ben McOwen Wilson, who manages YouTube's northern European partnerships, said in a telephone interview ahead of the announcement. He said the goal was to let content producers come up with something they couldn't deliver on TV.

The expansion into Europe marks another step in YouTube's foray into a business model typically associated with traditional commissioning editors.

McOwen Wilson said the new channels would include programming from BBC Worldwide, the British public broadcaster's commercial arm, Endemol, the Dutch company behind the "Big Brother" reality television franchise, and FreemantleMedia, an arm of German media giant Bertelsmann responsible for "American Idol."

He declined to say how much YouTube was shelling out for the European expansion. The Associated Press has previously reported that the company paid out $100 million (€77 million) to producers when it launched its U.S. channels in 2011, with advances reaching up to $5 million per channel. Factual programming includes "Euronews Knowledge," from rolling news channel Euronews and "Truthloader," by ITN Productions.

The channels will also count content from more niche players: the British offerings include online shows such as "Guinness World Records: OMG," co-produced by the famed U.K. record keepers and "The Jamie Oliver Food Channel" co-produced by the celebrity chef. Other British channels range from offerings on drum and bass (Mixmag TV) to childcare (Netmums) to makeup tips, fashion, royalty, and more.