YouTube is going to start helping some of its indie video content creators make money, starting tomorrow. The company will launch a program that puts the creators of some of the more popular YouTube channels — including Lonelygirl15, LisaNova, HappySlip, renetto, Smosh, and valsartdiary — on the same playing field as large media partners like CBS.
“A select group of content creators will get promotion on the YouTube platform, and we will help them monetize their content,” said Jamie Byrne, vice president of marketing at YouTube, in an interview on Thursday. “This will help erase the the stigma around the user-created content, and, to be honest, these guys are media entities in their own right.”
This is where Hollywood meets the democratization of media. If a YouTube starts paying for content that it monetizes, or at least sharing the revenue, and has huge scale, that could turn YouTube and its brethen into real competition for the attention of viewers in the Nielsen ratings world, which will make the traditional media side that relies on higher cost and often higher quality production values nervous about their economics and ratings.
When I was at the AlwaysOn OnHollywood conference in the heart of Hollywood, studio execs who spoke were thinking of ways to mine user generated content, casting a drift net for talent from the masses and marketing their products and brands by mixing it up with the crowd. Forward thinking, YouTube's revenue sharing may change the equation, creating real competition for talent and online revenue for the incumbents....that is unless the studios don't wake up and invest more heavily in the longer tail of content and in what is happening online, such as Justin TV, the Net generations reality show platform.
See also the YouTube blog on this topic