So now that we all hate Netflix (that's sarcasm by the way, I don't hate Netflix), where are we going to get our streaming video media from? How about YouTube? No, not funny videos of cats in cardboard boxes (no offense Maru) or cringe-inducing home videos of kids wiping out on their skateboards. I'm talking about original, professionally produced content channels. The rumor mill (in this case, The Hollywood Reporter) has YouTube launching these channels early next year, with an official announcement coming later this month.
To be fair, this isn't really in response to Netflix's recent problems. Rumors YouTube's new plan have been rolling around since last spring, but the talk got a bit more serious earlier this month when the Wall Street Journal reported on it, invoking pro skateboarder Tony Hawk as one of the star attractions. With Tony Hawk on board, how can it fail? (That, too, is sarcasm.)
Originally the story was that YouTube was going to invest $100 million in this content, but now that number has been bumped up to $150 million. Does that sound like a lot? Consider Netflix is rumored to be spending $100 million on House of Cards, a single original series that the company is backing. YouTube is said to be delivering 24 channels of original content.
So yeah, if the rumors are even true, we're talking low budget stuff. I'll hazard a guess that it'll be reality TV-ish stuff along the lines of Jackass or Jersey Shore.
The speculation is that this whole scheme is intended to bolster up Google TV (that theory comes from Electronista). Since Google can't get the big networks on board, they've decided to produce their own content.
It's a gutsy move, but is YouTube's network ready for this? Assuming they want to build brand loyalty and have viewers tuning in every week to watch whatever content they produce, their first order of business needs to be building out their infrastructure so that video streams smoothly during prime time. It's bad enough to have to wait 3 minutes for my 2 minute Maru video to buffer (I can't get enough of that crazy cat!) but what'll it be like trying to watch a 22 minute feature?
Is this just me? I've had the problem on both Comcast and FiOS networks. YouTube works great right up until about 5 pm and then performance goes into the toilet until late night. I'll put up with glitchy video on my computer screens but if YouTube expects me to kick back on the couch to watch content on the big screen via Google TV, they have to offer a consistently smooth streaming experience. Maybe I'm just picky, though.
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.