By Naima Abdi
The virtuoso’s of streaming video like YouTube and Hulu will soon add more original content to the long list of titles and videos already available to stream-happy users. This new and progressive venture set to take greater form within the next few months, means major changes for not only the companies involved but also for the web itself.
“Internet is no longer the ‘bastard child’ of TV. It’s just another channel now,” said Morgan Spurlock, a documentary filmmaker and panelist at Hulu’s ‘New Golden Age of TV’ panel discussion at SXSW.
So far Hulu has two series’ currently running “Battleground,” a scripted show about the world of politics in Wisconsin and “A Day In The Life,” the latter of which is already in its second season. There are also plans to release another docu-series called “Up To Speed,” created by Filmmaker Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Before Sunset). The show highlights travel to America’s generally ignored monuments and is hosted by funny-man, tour guide and historian Timothy ‘Speed’ Levitch. Earlier this month Hulu announced a partnership with FremantleMedia that will digitally distribute their original programming globally and grant Hulu originals worldwide exposure.
YouTube is committing to original content in a big way by aiming to make 25 hours of programming daily. There’s an anticipated debut of 100+ original channels that cover just about every lifestyle interest there is, some of which have already launched. In order to make this large-scale flood of new content possible, YouTube partnered with several big names like The Wall Street Journal, Live Strong, Pitch Fork, WWE, Red Bull and Vice. To claim success each channel will need strong content that can generate a high volume of subscriptions and attract advertisers to pay higher rates to swarm the channel with their ads. In a parent-like fashion, YouTube is offering some practical support to their partners by instructing them on ways to make a bigger impact; such as using search engine optimization (SEO), pop-up text and other self-promotional techniques.
While Hulu and YouTube are making original content a growth centered initiative, Netflix is seemingly trying the idea on with their first scripted show “Lillyhammer.” But since its release in February, there hasn’t been any talk of plans to add any new shows. Amazon is another company rumored to be in the works of taking on self-made content though no there’s no official word from Amazon confirming this yet.
On the surface the original content trend presents a great opportunity for all of these sites to capture ad dollars, bolster their brands and increase site traffic. But the bigger picture suggests that if successful, YouTube, Hulu and the rest of the sites on board (or possibly on board) stand to transform internet media consumption, expand the capabilities of online video content sites and provide an outlet for content that doesn’t fit into TV’s status-quo.