YouTube may be the top destination for videos of cats playing the piano, but could it be a threat to television? Google is betting it is. The company announced that YouTube, which Google owns, is partnering with Madonna, Ashton Kutcher, Amy Poehler, The Onion, Slate, and others to launch 100 new online "channels" with exclusive original programming — a deal reportedly worth $100 million. The first channel is expected to launch this month. Google is also updating Google TV to offer an easier way to access the new YouTube channels. Is this the first step toward making YouTube a replacement for cable TV?
Google may be on to something: "The traditional TV industry should consider itself warned," says Matt Rosoff at Business Insider. As more and more programming migrates online, TV is "changing from a world of a few hundred channels to millions of 'channels' available via the web." Google is smart to capitalize on that movement, and the Google TV link will put the YouTube programming on "equal footing" with cable shows.
"Make no mistake: Google is taking on the TV industry"
All it needs is one success: YouTube's problem has been that "skateboarding-chicken videos aren't necessarily what most people look for when they settle in on the couch" for the evening, says Michael Hogan at Moviefone. But "a skateboarding channel programmed by Tony Hawk" might be. Even if 90 percent of these channels fail, Google's investment will pay off if one or two can build a loyal audience, bypassing "the gatekeepers of broadcast and cable television."
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There is no way this will work: It's hard to imagine YouTube becoming "a viable alternative for television," says Mack Rawden at Cinema Blend. It just doesn't have enough substance, and it still won't even with these new channels. "Every year, hundreds of schemes and inventions are touted as waves of the future." Like most of them, this experiment will probably be "written off as costly and foolish" within the year.
"Will YouTube ever rival television?"