Jon Avnet, Rodrigo Garcia to create Wigs

Google plans to spend $200 million to market the plethora of new channels launching on YouTube, execs told advertisers on Wednesday.

“My colleagues and I are here to convince you to buy into our vision, figuratively and literally,” Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s global head of content, told the assembled advertisers at its first-ever “Brandcast” presentation Wednesday at the Beacon Theater in Gotham. The event caps a series of NewFronts programming presentations from major Netcos in recent weeks.

The plan to launch 100 channels and a navigation guide introduced last December are the first two steps in bolstering YouTube’s content strategy; the investment in marketing is the third key element to attract advertising dollars, Kyncl said.

Google and YouTube also unveiled a handful of new channel partners Wednesday, including filmmakers Jon Avnet and Rodrigo Garcia, the U.S. Olympic Committee, Tribeca Enterprises and Maker Studios.

YouTube, with 800 million viewers worldwide for its user-generated videos, announced plans months ago to roll out 100 channels and has built the roster to nearly 50 so far. Some will click with consumers, some won’t, execs acknowledged. By the end of the July, YouTube estimates 25 hours of new original content will be available each day.

Google exec chairman Eric Schmidt stressed that YouTube isn’t aiming to replace traditional television but to serve as another distribution channel.

“The existing models continue, and this new model, which has grown so quickly, continues to become more and more popular, especially in places where traditional stuff is not available, which is most of the world,” he told reporters on a conference call Wednesday afternoon.

Kyncl added that the company allows others “to build their aggregation brands, their content brands, on YouTube. And we essentially get YouTube out of the way to let those brands connect with the viewers on a much narrower focus basis. So we behave a lot more like a distributor of channels rather than a distributor of discrete pieces of content.”

Unilever, Toyota, GM and AT&T have already jumped onboard and are building their brands alongside new YouTube channels, execs said.

Barriers to entry for marketers are lower than what TV offers, with spots available to all businesses from the biggest to the smallest, which can even shoot commercials with a smartphone.

YouTube also emphasized its popularity with males 18-34. The company’s own research found this elusive demographic is now spending more time streaming video than watching live TV; one-third visit YouTube multiple times a day; half subscribe to a YouTube channel; and two-thirds shared YouTube videos in the past week.

YouTube also found that 40% of women 25-49 have subscribed to a YouTube channel, half of them shared a video this past week and one-third regularly share online video with their kids or parents.

Avnet and Garcia (“Albert Nobbs”) have joined to create Wigs, a channel producing original, scripted dramatic series and short films about the lives of women.

The first Wigs series is “Jan,” written and directed by Avnet and debuting May 14. Cast includes Caitlin Gerard, Virginia Madsen, Stephen Moyer, Kyle Gallner, Laura Spencer, Iddo Goldberg and Jaime Murray. The second Wigs series is “Blue,” written and directed by Garcia, with a cast including Julia Stiles, David Harbour, Uriah Shelton, Kathleen Quinlan, Sarah Paulson and Jeanne Tripplehorn.

The first Wigs short film is “Serena,” written and directed by Garcia and starring Jennifer Garner and Alfred Molina. Jennifer Beals, America Ferrera, Dakota Fanning, Michael C. Hall, Allison Janney and others have been tapped for upcoming Wigs shows. The net, to launch later this month, will also feature documentaries, behind-the-scenes videos and other unscripted content, all with female leads.

The TeamUSA channel, from the U.S. Olympic Committee, will include original content featuring 2012 Olympians, hopefuls and legends from years past and historical footage. Channel is sponsored by AT&T.

Tribeca Enterprises, parent company of Tribeca Film Festival and distribution label Tribeca Films, has teamed with YouTube partner Maker Studios for a channel called the Picture Show to debut later this year. No launch date has been set.

Live-action series “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn” will premiere this fall on Machinima, one of YouTube’s most popular channels, and Halo Waypoint, an online community serving the popular Microsoft gaming franchise. The series is intended to promote the fourth installment of the popular game, to be released in November.

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