YouTube Will Fund Big Projects From Top Creators

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Could this be Original Channels 2.0? It looks like YouTube is gearing up to invest serious coin in original content again. A post on the YouTube blog confirms that the video giant is ready to put more money into upping its original content game for the first time since the Original Channels Initiative. However, unlike last time, YouTube is keeping it in the family. Rather than tossing money at big name celebrities and media brands, YouTube is doubling down on the strategy that has dominated the year and investing more money in original content from its top creators.

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In the past, YouTube has experimented with different ways to bring higher production values and more slick content to the platform. The most ostentatious effort was the original channels initiative, which offered millions in funding to a diverse array of content producers from Madonna to The Wall Street Journal as an incentive to build their brand on YouTube. The effort saw mixed results and despite many high-profile success stories like The Young Turks, Geek and Sundry, and SourceFed it was quietly shuttered late last year with all references to the program removed from YouTube’s corporate website.

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Since that time YouTube has focused on investing in its own content creators. The company launched NextUp which targets creators on the rise with training and networking opportunities and has sunk millions into their global creator spaces. This year YouTube started hand-picking content creators for its beacon program which has pushed creators like Michelle Phan, Bethany Mota, and Epic Rap Battles into the mainstream with print and television ads. This latest announcement hints at continuing that trend. “we’ve decided to fund new content from some of our top creators, helping them not only fulfill their creative ambitions but also deliver new material to their millions of fans on YouTube,” writes Alex Carloss, Head of YouTube Originals.

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When contacted for comment, an YouTube rep told NMR that the video giant had “Nothing to announce yet” in regard to who would receive funding or how much money is one the table. Still this is a clear signal that YouTube is committing to its homegrown creators community. It’s a wise move at a time when competitors like Yahoo Screen, Vimeo, and Vessel are looking to woo content creators, and their valuable audiences. Perhaps this announcement is connected to the rumor we reported months ago that YouTube might be in the market to fund its top creators off-YouTube projects as long as those projects bring traffic back to the site. Though the YouTube has had an at times contentious relationship with its creators, CEO Susan Wojcikki seems determined to keep them on the reservation.