Its acquisition of Next New Network is just the start.
Google (GOOG) has always cut a pretty clear line between "organizing the world's information" and creating it. However, a recent significnt purchase of Next New Network and a report by the Wall Street Journal today seem to indicate that Google is now forging ahead in creating its own content.
The company is planning changes to the homepage that would highlight sets of channels around topics such as arts and sports. YouTube is looking to introduce 20 or so "premium channels" that will feature five to 10 hours of professionally-produced original programming a week. Additional channels will be assembled from content already on the site.
That seems pretty in line with what Next New Network did before they were acquired.
NNN is a network of networks that has made an art of finding grassroots YouTube talent -- like Obama Girl, now at home on its Barely Political channel -- giving them equipment, ad and marketing support, syndication, and cross-promotion in exchange for a split of the revenue. The company utilizes what it calls "super distribution" to meet viewers where they are, be it iTunes, MSN, Yahoo, Hulu, or emerging venues such as Boxee.
This is a risky move for Google/YouTube, especially in light of the regulatory/monopoly/competition buzz around the company right now. When Google was only organizing and hosting video content, it was harder to show that it was playing favorites. Now with its own content, its distribution strength will be criticized again, in yet another sphere of influence.
In fact, it sometimes seems like Google is trying to get itself in as much trouble as possible.
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