The Washington Post

YouTube: The future of entertainment is on the Web

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 12: Vice President of Global Content Partnerships at YouTube Robert Kyncl speaks during the Entertainment Matters keynote address at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino January 12, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 13 and features more than 3,100 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 140,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) (Ethan Miller/GETTY IMAGES)

In the next decade, 75 percent of all channels will be born on the Internet. That’s the bold prediction of the day from Robert Kyncl, the head of global partnerships for YouTube. In a speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Kyncl said the Web is poised to become the premium channel for entertainment distribution within the next decade.

YouTube announced in December that it logged 1 trillion hits in 2011 and is anticipating an even bigger year ahead as more politicians and newsmakers turn to the site to distribute Web ads, speeches and weekly video casts. On Thursday, Kyncl said all of the entertainment industry should be paying attention to Web video, predicting that soon 90 percent of Web traffic will be video.

It’s not just idle talk. YouTube and Kyncl — who came to the company from Netflix — are taking a big bet on Web video, pouring $100 million into original content production, in hopes of hitting on the next, big, viral thing.

The Web gives established brands to reach out to different audiences. Content partners participating in the channels program include The Onion and Machanima, established online content brands that have found external revenue from their work on YouTube.

“All of these channels are only getting started,” Kyncl said. “They are only scratching the surface.”

The new movement not only takes on traditional television head-on by offering another medium to big brands, it also gives a platform to niche content creators — those who make videos for crochet fanatics, pet lovers, or classical music aficionados— that would likely never see the light of day on traditional media.

To cultivate that talent, YouTube has launched not only its partnership network, but also grants and educational programs to help find the next YouTube stars and nurture them to find great audiences on the Web.

In a December interview with The Washington Post, YouTube Trends manager Kevin Allocca said that channels are the way that young people discover new Web content. In the past, YouTube users found most of their favorite videos through search.

“Right now we talk a lot about individual videos, but just for a little bit of comparison, you have someone like [comedian] Ray William Johnson, who has three channels with a billion views,” he said, predicting that channels will become “more and more a part of our user experience every day” in the year ahead.

Related stories:

YouTube redesigns Web site

YouTube’s year in review 2011

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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