YouTube may never look the same again. Google is planning a major revamp of the popular video site, one that will help it compete with the likes of Hulu in an Internet-connected TV era.
The Wall Street Journal cited "people familiar with the matter" in a story that outlines Google's plans. Essentially, the story reveals that YouTube is moving to compete with both broadcast and cable television and will add original programming to make the site stickier and attract advertisers.
Google will reportedly spend about $100 million on content for the web, the Journal reported, and categorize the content into about 20 channels on specific topics. YouTube would add several hours of professionally produced programming each week. Will the changes dilute the original appeal of YouTube, or is it time for a change?
New and Improved YouTube
Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, said YouTube is the real Google TV. The videos that YouTube has always featured are generally original. And YouTube has been supportive of independent filmmakers.
"So from a certain point of view, there's nothing new here conceptually," Sterling said. "What's new is the money that Google will invest to acquire and/or produce professional content that's exclusive to the channel."
As TV becomes just another way to get content, along with tablets, smartphones and the Internet, Sterling said there are billions of advertising dollars potentially at stake over the long term.
"We're entering a new phase in the evolution of television. Phase one was broadcast. Phase two was cable, and now this third phase is 'connected TV,'" Sterling said. "Netflix, Hulu and YouTube, possibly, are the aspiring CBS, NBC and ABC of this new connected-TV era."
Acquisitions Tell Story
Recent Google moves hinted that YouTube was heading in this direction. In March, Google's YouTube made two acquisitions aimed at improvements.
YouTube snapped up original-video producer Next New Networks. The company adds new weapons to YouTube's arsenal: Web video production. Next New Networks exists to produce original programming and help video producers distribute -- and make money -- from their films.
At that time, Tom Pickett, director of global content operations and YouTube Next, said Next New Networks would serve as an experimentation lab of sorts, with the team working hands-on with content partners and emerging talent on YouTube. Pickett said YouTube would leave the "actual creation of great videos" to its partners.
YouTube also rolled out what it's calling YouTube Next. The new team will take on the task of driving content development and helping YouTube content partners grow and monetize their broadcasts.
YouTube also bought Green Parrot Pictures. The Green Parrot technology could improve the quality of videos by sharpening the image, reducing visual noise, and rendering a higher-quality, steadier video during the uploading process. The technology has been used in major studio productions from Lord of the Rings to X-Men to Spider-Man.