YouTube, a division of Google, is exploring a new way to get more high-quality clips on its site: financing amateur video creators.
On Friday morning at Vidcon, an inaugural gathering of the online video community, YouTube is announcing that it will create a $5 million Partner Grants Program, which will back emerging auteurs who are attracting growing audiences on its site.
YouTube, which recently turned 5, has been tremendously successful in capturing the homemade videos of the Flip-cam-armed filmmaker. But when it comes to more professionally produced video, apart from certain exceptions like music videos, far more material has gone to a rival, Hulu.com.
The grants program is designed to help change that. YouTube says it will reach out to creators whose work appeals to large audiences and mainstream advertisers, and who are adept at marketing their work across the Web. Average contributions will range from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand dollars.
The program is similar to efforts at other Internet companies to forge direct relationships with content creators, bypassing the traditional gatekeepers of the media business. Amazon.com, for example, has introduced a number of self-publishing tools on its Kindle platform and set a high royalty rate for authors.
“Ultimately the game has changed and people are throwing the rules out the window,” said George Strompolos, the partner development manager at YouTube. “Folks who 10 years ago couldn’t even get their content shared to friends across the street are now connecting with audiences around the world. We see that not only as a cute thing, where someone has a viral hit, we see these people as the next content creators, the next brand in original programming. It’s where our roots have always been and we are doubling down on that type of programming.”