YouTube Commits $200M to Promote Premium 'Channels'

Jay-Z Gives Surprise Performance, And, Yes, It's Already on YouTube

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There was Jay -Z, Flo Rida and the Neon Trees; Julia Stiles, Jennifer Beals, Virginia Madsen and Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt. YouTube threw a star-studded show for advertisers Wednesday night to tout its $100 million investment new "channels," a bid to bring professional entertainment to the world's largest video site.

(L-R) Julia Stiles, Sarah Jones, Jennifer Beals, Caitlin Gerard and Virginia Madsen.
(L-R) Julia Stiles, Sarah Jones, Jennifer Beals, Caitlin Gerard and Virginia Madsen. Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

It also unveiled a $200 million campaign across Google's Content Network to push those channels -- meaning online ads promoting the nascent entertainment brands will start appearing in a big way.

"We will fish where the fish are...and it's a mighty big pond!" said Google VP-content Robert Kyncl in an appeal to agency execs. " If you want to lead, join us now, as the next seven years will be a lot faster than the last. We can build audiences together. We can build brands together."

The investment in promotion is part of an effort to train visitors to think of YouTube as an entertainment destination, including a programmable channel guide to make it easier to find premium content among the clutter. "We learned from TV," Mr. Kyncl said. "You can press a button and relax."

In addition to performances, YouTube relied on some of its content partners to make the case that this is the beginning of the next transformation of TV, much the way cable technology brought consumers more choice.

"The web will be to cable TV what cable TV was to broadcast," said Chris Hardwick, host of Nerdist channel.

Since there were plenty of smartphones in the Beacon Theater on Wednesday night, it didn't take long for a video of Jay -Z's performance to appear on YouTube:

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