A number of established print publishers have joined all the celebrities and web natives programming YouTube's 100 new high-polish, high-stakes original-content channels.
Scattered in with offerings from Madonna, Machinima, Katalyst and Demand Media, for example, you'll find channels from Hearst Magazines, Rodale, The Wall Street Journal, Motor Trend, Vice and others.
Success will require gaining some unfamiliar skills for publishers, even though many have become adept in producing video for their own sites or iPad editions. Will they be able to ape TV's regular scheduling and production values well enough to hold the interest of web surfers and brand advertisers? Will they hold budgets down sufficiently to make the returns worth the effort? Will they be able to offer the ad inventory to their existing, or prospective, print advertisers? Just what will these channels show? And why didn't they do this before now? YouTube, after all, has been around for years.
We've got some early answers.
Why did Hearst sign on with YouTube's big push for quality content channels? "They're clearly serious in the kinds of resources and commitment that they're making to their channel partners, both from a financial and promotional perspective," said John Loughlin, exec VP and general manager at Hearst Magazines. "That gives us confidence that they're going to generate a substantial level of interest among their viewers. That means they do their job. Our job is to now create content that 's truly compelling in video form."
Happily for Hearst it's been producing roughly 150 videos a month, perhaps 1,000 hours per year or more, for its own sites and tablet editions, according to Mr. Loughlin.
Hearst is now adding two channels to YouTube: a fashion and beauty channel in conjunction with Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Seventeen and Realbeauty.com, and an auto channel in conjunction with Car and Driver, Road & Track and Popular Mechanics. The fashion and beauty channel will see perhaps 30 to 40 hours of original video in its first year, complemented by at least that much material from Hearst's existing video library, while the auto channel will add 50 to 60 hours of original content and probably slightly less than that from the archives.
The new video will live exclusively on YouTube and then "after a reasonably brief period of time" become available for any other form or format Hearst chooses, Mr. Loughlin said. YouTube is open to sharing some ad sales opportunities around the channels, he added. "YouTube and Google are going to take the lead on the sale and monetization of the channels, but obviously we field a very large sale operation."
"It gives us the opportunity to enhance and grow not just our skill sets but also, importantly, the audience that we get to touch as a function of these venerable brands that are going to participate," Mr. Loughlin said.
Meredith , publisher of magazines such as Ladies' Home Journal, will fill a channel called Digs with seven original series developed and produced by a dedicated production team at Meredith Video Studios: "Jordan in the House," about blogger Jordan Reid decorating and entertaining; "Door Knock Design," in which a DIY expert gives a viewer's home a makeover in a day; "Gardens of the Rich and Famous," about celebs' back yards; "Porcelain Thrones," on extravagant bathrooms; "Home-Made," featuring craftsmen and women on their homemade goods; party show "Ready, Set, Celebrate"; and "No Man's Land," about women's answers to the Man Cave.
YouTube has the exclusive right to sell advertising on the Digs channel, according to Meredith .
Rodale, the publisher of magazines such as Men's Health and Prevention, has teamed up with production company BermanBraun on a joint venture to program two new YouTube channels: a food-centric channel with the working title of Taste and a health-and-wellness channel with an emphasis on exercise with the working title of Vigor.
Rodale is primarily bringing its expertise and existing content library while BermanBraun takes the lead on production, but each will contribute in all areas, according to Steve Madden, VP-digital product development at Rodale. "They're bringing ideas to the table and there are shows that Rodale will do all the production on," he said.
The first programming block will probably contain five shows. Some will run for five or six minutes and appear weekly, while others will be 30-second clips that show up more often. New content will be exclusive to the channel for 18 months, after which Rodale and BermanBraun can do as they like with it.
The majority of ad sales will be handled by Google and YouTube, but not all of it.
Getting to do a food channel is a nice opening for Rodale, which is better known for diet and "prescriptive eating" than food more generally, Mr. Madden added. "This is more a celebrating of good food, period, so it's exciting to think about the opportunities this creates for us."
Time Inc.'s InStyle
InStyle is working with Magical Elves, the TV production company behind shows such as "Project Runway" and "Top Chef," on a fashion and beauty channel called "Little Black Dress" that will appear, like most of these offerings, early next year.
"It's a great opportunity to incubate talent and really creative ideas that can then potentially have a life elsewhere," Magical Elves co-founder Dan Cutforth told The Los Angeles Times.
Although Vice began as a magazine, it's been big in video for a while now, with a longstanding distribution deal with CNN.com, one TV show on MTV and another in development for HBO.
Its two new YouTube channels are The Vice Channel, described as "yet another outlet for Vice's entertainment, news, travel, sports and tech videos," and Noisey, a music channel showing performances and other music programming.
The Onion has similarly already made a big investment in video, putting the Onion News Network online in 2007 and adding "Onion News Network" on IFC and "SportsDome" on Comedy Central this year. (IFC has since renewed "Onion News Network" but Comedy Central canceled "SportsDome.")
Its new YouTube channel, Onion Broadcasting Company, will be a mix of "familiar faces and shows, as well as new, original programming exclusive to YouTube," a spokeswoman for The Onion said. It will build on The Onion's existing YouTube channel -- "while also wading into non-news programming" she said.