YouTube moves to be Web's cable provider

YouTube moves to be Web's cable provider

POSTED: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 1:00am

UPDATED: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 1:04am

Part of the enduring appeal of YouTube is the sheer random nature of it all -- the way videos of a South Korean pop song or a doped-up kid after a dentist visit can go from obscure to internationally known in a matter of days.

But increasingly, the Web's leading video site has also been working to become the Internet's cable provider, mixing channels of its own original content, often in partnership with established stars, into the mix.

Last October, YouTube announced 100 new channels, featuring everything from sports to comedy to educational videos. On Monday, it announced plans for another 40, with an international bent that includes channels from France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The site also rolled out some impressive numbers about how the project has gone so far.

YouTube says its top 25 original channels average more than 1 million views per week. About 800 million people are watching 4 billion hours of content on its original channels every month, an increase from 3 billion earlier this year.

"From local cuisine, health and wellness and parenting to sports, music, comedy, animation and news, this new lineup of original channels will have something for everyone," said Robert Kyncl, YouTube's global head of content, in a blog post. "They are backed by some of the biggest producers, well-known celebrities and emerging media companies from Europe and the U.S."

The new offerings include "The Jamie Oliver Food Channel," from England, German auto channel Motorvision and "city magazine" Rendezvous a Paris from France. New U.S. offerings include health-food channel Super Foods, The Creators Project from Vice and Above Average Productions, featuring short comedy clips by writers from "Saturday Night Live," "30 Rock," the Lonely Island comedy troupe and elsewhere.

Just getting started with YouTube's original channels? Here are five we think might be of interest to CNN Tech readers:

TED-Ed

TED (Technology, Education and Design) is a series of conferences designed to bring together serious thinkers in an effort to share "ideas worth spreading."

TED-Ed is an initiative that grew out of that. It is a curated series of education videos, which are good for teachers in need of extra resources. They are allowed to customize the videos to suit their needs and share them, publicly or privately, free.

It's also fun for anybody looking to bone up on Newton's laws or learn how to write great essays.

Advisers to the project include Salman Khan of Khan Academies, Melinda Gates and Jackie Bezos, the co-director of the education-oriented Bezos Family Foundation and mother of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Geek & Sundry

Celebrating all things geektastic, "Geek & Sundry" is helmed by Felicia Day, an icon of sorts in the world of Internet fandom who brought her groundbreaking Web series, "The Guild," to the channel.

Other top draws include the video version of the "Sword & Laser" podcast, in which Tom Merritt and Veronica Belmont (he a host and she an alum of "This Week In Tech,") talk science fiction and fantasy literature, and "Tabletop," featuring actor Wil Wheaton and guests talking about, and playing, board games.

The Warner Sound

OK, we know this might look shameless, but it's not. (The Warner Music Group spun off from Time Warner, which owns CNN, in 2004).

Besides, this has been the No. 1 original YouTube channel every week since June.

Yes, Warner is a music juggernaut, and you'll find the occasional video by platinum artists like Flo Rida and Green Day. But TWS celebrates "the other side of music" and the majority of posts feature more alternative, lesser known or up-and-coming acts (LP, Tegan & Sara, The Mars Volta, Santigold).

SciShow

Whether it's a 10-minute biography of enigmatic inventor Nikola Tesla (Thomas Edison gets called an "asshat") or explaining the makeup of bath salts, the amphetamine that makes people do "bat-crap crazy" things, veteran video-blogger Hank Green makes science both understandable and fun.

That is, when he's not running an online record label, playing his own music or writing or recording videos for, like, 100 other blogs and websites.

Soul Pancake

On Soul Pancake, "The Office" actor Rainn Wilson invites you to "open your heart without feeling like an idiot."

An extension of his website by the same name, Soul Pancake is informed by Wilson's Baha'i faith and challenges viewers to consider issues of spirituality, philosophy and creativity, among other heady topics.

"We need connection. We need compassion. We need nurturing," Wilson said at last year's South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

If that sounds heavy, know that it's sprinkled with Wilson's wit. A recent video calling for a holiday on Election Day, featured (for some reason) an 18th century sharecropper with gold coins hidden in his posterior. 

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