YouTube Originals and Y! Screen: Foreshadowing of a la carte?


Some time ago I posted about The Streamys, an organization  promoting some pretty entertaining web only content. A look at the website, however, indicates that the Streamys have fizzled.

Screen capture from Y! "Burning Love"
Screen capture from Y! “Burning Love”

None the less I see that both Yahoo and Google (aka YouTube) are giving it a go. And I wonder just how many people regularly watch such content.

Take a look at  one of Yahoo’s offerings on Yahoo Screen. In what is a spoof of the oh so familiar reality dating show, Burning Love follows Julie’s attempt to select the right guy. Clicking on one of the episodes I’m first greeted by a 30 second ad for Sleep Number beds before the show starts. One nice thing about watching on your laptop: you can be checking your email, or another web page during commercials. I find the show mildly entertaining but not compelling enough to be a regular viewer. Episode 14 generates  over 80 comments by viewers, perhaps one indicator of moderate viewership.

Yahoo offers a few other shows of what appear to be Yahoo original content. Most of them seem to tend toward the comedy/satire genre.

Compared to Yahoo,  YouTube originals offers a lot more content. I count 22 categories e.g. Comedy and Sports with each of these offering sub-categories. Clearly Google has invested more than Yahoo has, reportedly $100 million.

Screen capture from YouTube Originals GolfLink

Screen capture from YouTube Originals GolfLink

Recently I ranted about how the Golf  Channel is not really available as OTT content. YouTube originals has a channel called GolfLink. Again I get commercials (checking my email again) before content starts. But these are shorter clips on the order of a few minutes, so the commercial to content ratio might be a lot bigger.

Thanks to Google’s obsession with data, I can see the GolfLink channel has over 27,000 subscribers. Not very many but then golf is kind of a specialty sport. With a little work I could probably figure out which of these channels is getting the most viewers.

What YouTube and to some extent Yahoo illustrate, is the ease at which an a la carte delivery system could be created. In fact Google which is already making their own set top box, and functioning as a cable operator in Kansas City, has almost everything they need to reinvent the system.YouTube originals and Yahoo Screen, show what an a la carte system looks like minus a few key factors: live sports content and premium/expensively produced programs. Will these transition into the new a la carte model?  Possibly. For that to happen the content bundles currently controlled by cable operators will have to break.

Let me know in the comments if you watch any of this streaming content and your opinion of where we’re headed.

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