YouTube hits Hollywood in attempt to boost premium content

YouTube wants to boost funding for premium content through its service by chatting to various Hollywood producers to increase the amount of advertising dollars that flow through the company coffers.

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Sources with knowledge of the talks told Reuters that the Google-owned site is attempting to make the move from a site known for grainy amateur videos to one offering polished content in the form of web TV series.

The past two months have seen YouTube executives doing the rounds at a range of Hollywood producers to talk about the sort of support it could offer content creators as well as the must-see programming it can produce, according to two people familiar with the matter.

It’s not clear how the project is being structured and one of those sources speculated that YouTube is ready to offer between $1 million [£584,000] and $3 million [£1.75 million] to producers to create a series of web episodes with marketing funds being talked up as part of the package.

"We are always exploring various content and marketing ideas to support and accelerate our creators," a YouTube representative said in an email.

When pushed on the length of the videos, the second source stated that they would be shorter than the 30-minute television quality web shows that have become the staple of the likes of Amazon and a range of other online sites.

YouTube’s latest efforts follow a project launched at the back end of 2011 that included ploughing around $100 million [£58.4 million] into almost 100 channels from the likes of Reuters, Madonna, ESPN and various smaller content creators.

Even though many of the channels have failed to capture the public’s imagination, YouTube admitted that upwards of 115 of them are in the top two per cent of the site’s most-subscribed channels.

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YouTube also entered the paid content arena just over a year ago with a pilot that involved 53 channels that had a 14-day trial period before charging anything from £1.49 per month to subscribe, with varied levels of success.