YouTube takes original programming to Europe

RAPHAEL SATTER
Last updated 16:44 09/10/2012

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YouTube is extending its original programming initiative into Europe, with at least 60 new video channels from media companies including the BBC, London-based FremantleMedia and the Netherlands' Endemol.

The Google-owned video site said on Monday the new channels, with content from Britain, Germany, France, and the United States, would be in addition to the 100 channels launched in the US last year.

Like the pre-existing American offerings, the European channels will have a mix of celebrity-oriented, niche, and established programmes.

"Some of the channels are personality-driven, others are from partners who are totally passionate about a subject," Ben McOwen Wilson, who manages YouTube's northern European partnerships, said in a telephone interview ahead of the announcement.

He said the goal was to let content producers come up with something they couldn't deliver on TV.

The expansion into Europe marks another step in YouTube's move into the territory normally occupied by traditional media companies.

McOwen Wilson said the new channels would include programming from BBC Worldwide, the British public broadcaster's commercial arm; Endemol, the Dutch company behind the Big Brother reality television franchise; and FremantleMedia, an arm of German media giant Bertelsmann responsible for American Idol.

Factual programming includes Euronews Knowledge, from rolling news channel Euronews and Truthloader, by ITN Productions.

The channels will also count content from more niche players: the British offerings include co-productions such as Guinness World Records: OMG and The Jamie Oliver Food Channel.

Other British channels range from programs on drum and bass (Mixmag TV) to childcare (Netmums) and makeup tips, fashion, royalty, and more.

McOwen Wilson declined to say how much YouTube was investing in the European expansion.

The Associated Press has previously reported that the company paid out €100 million to producers when it launched its US channels in 2011, with advances reaching up to US$5 million per channel.

Google hopes that advertising revenue will cover the money in advance it paid the media companies to set up the channels.

Any surplus money generated on top of the advance would be split between Google and the producers.

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- AP

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