YouTube is partnering with Ashton Kutcher, Amy Poehler, Shaq, IGN, The Wall Street Journal and dozens of others to launch a slew of premium video channels.
The channels, which have been in the works for months, is a big and risky play to get premium content onto its servers. Google (YouTube’s owner) is reportedly spending $100 million to secure the deals for its original channels.
“The first of these new original channels will appear on YouTube starting next month and will continue over the next year,” YouTube Global Head of Content Partnerships Robert Kyncl said in a blog post. “They’ll be available to you on any internet-connected device, anywhere in the world, with all the interactivity and social features of YouTube built right in.”
The channels will be anchored by a celebrity lineup that includes Madonna (DanceOn), Shaq (The Comedy Shaq Network), Rainn Wilson (SoulPancake), Ashton Kutcher (Katalyst Thrash Lab) and Deepak Chopra (Generate The Chopra Well). YouTube’s partnerships run deeper than celebrities though: WWE, WSJ, The Onion, SB Nation, Demand Media, CafeMom, TED, IGN, Slate, Bleacher Report, InStyle Magazine and Lionsgate are all partners that will seed the content for the new YouTube channels.
YouTube has also launched a preview site for the new channels.
It’s no secret that Google has been wanting to move more into premium video. It’s far more monetizable than cat videos, and it sets up YouTube to be the cable channel of the future. It acquired Next New Networks to help it produce more premium content, and it isn’t sparing any expense to land big-name celebrities for its channels. It won’t be long until we see whether those deals were worth the price.