YouTube takes on television with star cast

Google is to sprinkle some Hollywood stardust over its YouTube video website, as it goes head-to-head with traditional television in the battle for a new generation of viewers.

The company is understood to have approached several of the top Hollywood talent agencies in the hope of persuading major stars to create original content for YouTube, and even to start new "channels" on the site.

The talks raise the intriguing possibility that fêted actors could soon be launching their latest projects not on television or in the cinemas, but on the internet.

YouTube, which began as an interminable stream of You've Been Framed-style home videos, was bought by Google in 2006 and has since expanded into a venue for increasingly professional content, first through the addition of copyright-approved music videos, and then through original drama.

It is this side of the website that Google is planning to emphasise as YouTube celebrates its sixth anniversary in May, and which has prompted the new push in Hollywood. It is offering to pay stars a cash advance and to then share revenues from advertising, which could be either clickable ads on the website next to their videos, or television-style commercials which play before or during the programme.

Creative Artists Agency, home to Brad Pitt and George Clooney, and William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, which represents Johnny Depp and Gwyneth Paltrow, are among the large talent agencies to have been approached by Google, it was reported.

More than 2 billion YouTube videos are watched every day. Over 24 hours of video are uploaded every minute, it claims, and more footage is uploaded to the site in 60 days than the three largest US television networks broadcast in 60 years.

But while YouTube was a pioneer of video on the web, it risks being eclipsed by other more professional sources of video content.

A revolution is underway. The US networks created Hulu to stream television programmes on demand on the web, and many shows are also put online on the TV networks' own websites. Meanwhile, Netflix, which began as a mail-order DVD rental business, also now streams recently-broadcast shows. Social networks such as Myspace have also been encouraging independent film-makers to produce programmes for their sites. In many countries, new places to watch programmes online have sprung up, most notably the BBC iPlayer and similar ventures by other channels in Britain.

A new survey out in the US yesterday from Nielsen, the official TV ratings firm, which has now expanded into monitoring the web, says that people are watching more and more video online, presenting a growing threat to traditional television.

The number of online viewers rose only 3 per cent in the year to January, but the amount of time they spent watching video jumped 45 per cent, suggesting they are seeking out full-length shows.

On YouTube, the proportion of its top 100 most-watched videos which are professionally made is surging, to 86 per cent in the past three months according to Hudson Square Research, and that is turning YouTube into a much more lucrative business for Google.

Advertisers are much less wary of hawking their wares alongside professional content, as they have done with traditional television since its inception, than they are alongside potentially controversial or poor-quality home video.

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test