YouTube to use Hollywood stars for site revamp

YOUTUBE is set for a major revamp by enlisting celebrities to provide original content for the online video site.

Google, which owns YouTube, is understood to have been in talks with numerous Hollywood talent agencies offering cash advances to stars in exchange for attaching their names and overseeing content for a suite of new channels on the site.

The new channels will be based on certain themes or categories of interest such as video, food, music and video games. It is unclear how many celebrities or production companies have signed up to the venture.

The move is seen as an effort by the search engine giant to increase user engagement with the video site and boost profits. However, it is understood that Google has no intention of moving YouTube away from its roots as a website that primarily operates with user-generated content.

YouTube is the biggest online video website in the world, boasting in excess of 2.5 billion views every day. It generated $825 million (€585m) in revenue in 2010 and is expected to make $1.3 billion this year.

However, Google is believed to be interested in adding more professional, original content to the site and has met with some of the biggest Hollywood talent agencies including Creative Artists Agency, International Creative Management, United Talent Agency, and William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, in a bid to attract the biggest stars to this drive.

Google recently acquired Next New Networks, which has relationships with a host of independent online video producers. The search engine giant has also hired a new team of executives with a background in Hollywood to lead its push into generating original content.

Last year, it hired Robert Kyncl, a former Netflix executive, who negotiated a $900m deal to stream movies made by Paramount Pictures, MGM and Lions Gate Entertainment for the DVD subscription and movie streaming company.

It has also hired two former executives with Paramount Pictures’ digital unit — Alex Carlos and Malik Ducard to help spearhead the new direction.

It’s been a phenomenal rise for YouTube which is only existence just shy of six years.

Founded by three former employees of PayPal, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, the site started with a shaky clip of a young man standing in San Diego Zoo talking about elephants.

The site was the first to make it easy to upload and share video footage online. It now contains well over one billion videos with Google acquiring the site in 2006 for $1.65 billion.

Earlier this month YouTube bought Dublin-based video technology company, Green Parrot Pictures, for an undisclosed sum.

They work on sharpening blurry images and reducing visual “noise”.

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