YouTubeas is working on a major overhaul to position itself for the rise of televisions that let people watch online video in their living rooms, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The site is planning a series of changes to its home page to highlight sets of "channels" around topics such as arts and sports. About 20 or so of those channels will feature several hours of professionally produced original programming a week, some of these people said. Additional channels would be assembled from content already on the site.
It's planning to spend as much as $100 million to commission low-cost content designed exclusively for the Web, people familiar with the matter said.
In preparation for the launch, YouTube executives have reportedly already met with talent agencies in an effort to generate interest. And, according to sources the deals are expected to be struck with content producers rather than specific celebrities themselves, meaning these channels would likely be more general in topic rather than linked to any one person.
The pending changes are a big bet by the world's most-popular video site to push in a new direction. Between the Wild West of user-generated content and the pricier precincts of full-blown TV shows, Google is hoping to carve out a niche of original, professionally produced Web videos that it hopes will cultivate loyal viewers.
A YouTube spokesman declined to comment on the new initiatives. "YouTube saw incredible growth in 2010 and we're excited about the future," the spokesman said.