Is YouTube Sending User Videos To The Minor Leagues?

Mar 30th, 2009 | By | Category: Video

From the Whispers and Rumours Department, ClickZ is saying that a mid-April YouTube redesign will prominently feature premium and long-form content — and will segregate the professional videos from the vast storehouse of user-generated content.

ClickZ’s Zachary Rodgers writes:

“According to two sources familiar with Google’s plans for YouTube, the new design will do away with the current navigation scheme — which funnels users into “videos,” “channels,” and “community” categories. That layout will be replaced with a tabbed navigation with clearly defined sections for professional content.

“The new design will offer four tabs: Movies, Music, Shows, and Videos. The first three tabs will display premium shows, clips, and movies from Google’s network and studio partners, all of which will be monetized with in-stream advertising. Meanwhile the Videos channel will house amateur and semi-pro content of the sort major brand advertisers have shied away from.

“‘They’re putting up walls between all the UGC stuff, which will live within the video channel,…and the brand safe content,’ said one senior agency exec who was briefed on YouTube’s plans.”

The redesign is rumored to make the YouTube video player look like a Hulu clone, but perhaps with multiple in-episode advertisers like CBS’ online shows. NBC and ABC use an “exclusive,” single-sponsor advertising model.

Additional changes were vaguely hinted at last week when YouTube announced a number of updates and new features on the video site. Last week’s batch of announcements included

  • the launch of an educational video resource, YouTube EDU,
  • easier login
  • easier HD video sharing
  • Twitter update capability
  • ways to use YouTube as a “social network”
  • and better mobile phone-to-YouTube upload capabilities.

There would be a number of potential problems with this rumored separation of user-generated content from sponsored, professional, premium YouTube content. The current library of available TV series on YouTube mostly are oldy-moldy shows from the 1980s. Would advertisers really like to put their money on “MacGyver” reruns? I’m guessing that sponsors will hold out for contemporary shows for promoting their brands.

Another problem with segregating user-generated video is that a lot of what becomes popular on YouTube comes from that vast pool of “amateur” content. Many of the most popular pieces on YouTube are not the slick, well-edited premium videos; they are the quirky, stupid, funny amateur videos, (the ones you might call “viral”) of biting toddlers, evil chipmunks, dancing buffoons, and mascara-smeared emo boys.

It may be impossible for YouTube screeners to determine which of these silly videos will catch the public’s imagination, but to relegate these pieces to the hinterlands is not in YouTube’s best interests.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

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