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YouTube to tap big content for new channels

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YouTube—with its userbase weighted heavily towards independent content creators—is said to be moving towards professional channels sponsored by major media companies and celebrities, according to a Wall Street Journal article published today.

How will YouTube’s community of original, mostly amateur content creators take the news? Initial indications are, “poorly.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that next week YouTube will be announcing “a slew of partnerships with media companies and well-known personalities to produce content” on the site.

All the partners listed in the Wall Street Journal article are big-wigs, and all are involved with cable channels such as ABC, NBC, VH1, and MTV. Others have producing credits on TV shows like “Ugly Betty,” “America’s Got Talent,” “American Idol” and “The Apprentice.” The WSJ article also states, skateboarding legend Tony Hawk and "CSI" creator Anthony Zuiker are involved.  

This is all part of YouTube’s move to “become a next-generation cable provider overseeing dozens of free online ‘channels’ with professional-grade shows,” wrote the Wall Street Journal.

While a YouTube spokesperson told the Daily Dot they “don’t comment on rumors and speculation,” the Wall Street Journal has written at least four articles on these impending corporate channels. The Wall Street Journal is also owned by News Corp, one of the partnerships said to be announced next week.

This isn’t the first time news of this kind spread on the Internet. Back in February, web publication Scribbal reported on a similar announcement saying “the search giant wants to build a video service that will compete with television.”  And last week, web publication Deadline published an article similar to the Wall Street Journal’s, writing YouTube was moving to have 25 of these channels up and running by January.  

YouTube’s original community of content creators, which has steadily proliferated on the site since 2007, have been very vocal about increasing levels of commercialism on the site in the past.

While no YouTubers have come out to directly address YouTube’s supposed impending announcement, three of the largest video discussion threads on the site -- something YouTube rarely does as they never rally together -- have been on similar topics, of commercialization and corporatism.

And on October 14, the same day as Deadline’s article, long-time user and musician Mike Lombardo uploaded a video onto the site titled “Please don’t let us die!”

Filmed in his bedroom, Lombardo is somber and articulate as he discusses the increasing shift towards professional looking content, lack of original content, the perceived death of the YouTube community, and overall lack of community engagement.

“Then the partner program comes around, and corporate channels come around, and Ford Motors can have a channel now, and the major record labels can have a channel now... and because of that, we’ve diluted this wonderful environment of original, beautiful content...”

Lombardo doesn’t reference any articles in his video-plea, but does say near the end of the video “we’re going to be in some serious trouble pretty soon, and all these original content creators are not going to be able to support themselves.”

He ends his video with “don’t let your original content creators die” and “it’s our site, it’s not the corporation’s site. Help us keep it that way.” In the description of his video, he includes links to under-appreciated YouTubers who create “original” and “interesting” content.

Lombardo, in a tweet to the Daily Dot about the Wall Street Journal piece, was a bit cynical in his response:

“It's no different than what is already on the site, except Google is footing the bill.”