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YouTube to Launch New Original Content Effort by Year-End

Alex Carloss, head of originals at YouTube, gave a little more color Tuesday at the NATPE confab on the Google-owned video powerhouse’s upcoming effort to finance original programming.

He indicated that the initiative would launch by the end of the year, but stopped short of specifying just how much would be spent or on who dollars will be spent. But Carloss made clear that the effort would be focused on taking top native YouTube talent and giving them the financial lift to execute programming concepts they couldn’t otherwise achieve.

“We’ll start with the next level for a lot of our creators; we’ll fund beyond what they are typically able to realize,” said Carloss, drawing a distinction between YouTube and the more conventional scripted content efforts of Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Carloss also sought to draw a distinction between YouTube’s 2012 channel-centric programming initiative, which spent $200 million on producing and marketing content from a mix of native digital brands and Hollywood producers. “We learned a huge amount in the process,” he said. “In many ways, it shaped the  YouTube narrative, to write the playbook for what works and what doesn’t.”

Yet another difference between YouTube and traditional TV that Carloss identified was that the company won’t be constrained by the typical half-hour or hourlong episode formats.  He also noted that traditional TV shows seem to be mimicking YouTube’s formats more than the other way around, highlighting all the traffic broadcast late-night hosts in particular have been getting peddling select segments online.

“It’s starting to govern their formats,” said Carloss. “They’re developing isolated shows within shows.”

Carloss said his originals team, which is just three months into its effort, is split among scripted, unscripted, family and comedy programming. In addition to financial support, the talent involved will be able to partake of marketing help, “matchmaking with off-YouTube talent,” and the company’s own production facilities.

As for who YouTube will lavish its programming efforts on, Carloss said they will be looking for talent that has a rabid fan base, passionate creators and good ideas.

YouTube is putting the focus on grooming its own top talent as competitive pressure is coming from new ventures like Jason Kilar’s Vessel, and social media giants like Facebook put renewed focus on video on their own platforms.

The originals initiative will likely sync up with Google Preferred, an initiative YouTube announced at its “newfronts” presentation last year that allows advertisers to buy into the top 5% of its ad inventory. Carloss indicated Google Preferred has been successful, and is being rolled out in other countries now that it has established traction in the U.S.

Carloss was interviewed at NATPE by Matthew Garrahan of The Financial Times.

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