Because YouTube has Google money to spend, the online video destination has an attractive place for people who are already in show business or hope to launch an entertainment career. Recently, the defection of Food Network's Bruce Seidel to Electus' unnamed new YouTube food channel, set to debut in July, hit the news wire and it brings up an interesting question. Are we going to be seeing executives, already entrenched in TV, defecting in large numbers over the course of this year? With online video sites seeing numbers that rival cable networks in viewership, I don't think that's a stretch.
A Talent Shift Is Happening Before Our Very Eyes
You see little snippets: James Franco is making a web series, or Tom Hanks getting behind a series on Yahoo!, and all the talent behind original channels on YouTube, and take a look at this online video landscape that already includes Funny Or Die, one of the sites I credit for making recognizable actors' transition into online video a lot easier, and you can see the shift to the web has become a natural thing. So when I hear that an executive from a cable channel is willing to make the jump, the shift has already happened, and the world will eventually catch up.
Viewing habits, as we all predict, will change dramatically this decade. Online video is no longer playing second fiddle. It's enjoying the same kind of transition that say, Fox had to endure in its growing pains period in the late eighties when Married...With Children was its flagship programming and shows like Small Wonder and Out of this World were somehow lasting for five seasons. Fox got buoyed by The Simpsons and an investment into NFL broadcasting in the early nineties. They were barely recognized as a major network, and sometimes not even that, until then. Fox did what should be immediately clear: they invested in content and it has paid off.
YouTube hopes to do the same thing. They already have the viewership, but focusing the viewers and making the content attractive to advertisers has been their challenge. Thus, the investment in the original channels and guys like Bruce Seidel coming over from cable to oversee a food channel on YouTube. The shift in viewing habits may start with channels like this. Setting up a mobile device or laptop in the kitchen and whipping up some awesome recipe is a thing we'll be seeing a lot of in the next few years. I don't even cook that much and the idea of sticking my laptop in a kitchen and cooking some ridiculously tasty dish is attractive to me.
Now, I know...there are already tons of cooking shows on YouTube. But the point is not that content is already there, the point is that major talent is making a shift to online video and hardcore TV viewers will soon be making a shift because of it. When the online community takes their content seriously, eyeballs will follow.