YouTube: A Lifeline for Indie Nets?

Many of the content providers signed on with YouTube’s recent subscription-video venture are looking to maximize awareness for their programming while helping generate revenue to pay for their programming investment.

For companies already in the cable game, such as Entertainment Studios and Here TV, the YouTube offerings serve as another outlet in their growing distribution portfolio. Both companies see YouTube as another way to get their product out to the consumer via as many outlets as possible.

Byron Allen’s ES, which offers eight HDbased channels — Cars.TV, Comedy.TV, ES.TV, MyDestination.TV, Pets.TV, Recipe.TV, Justice- Central.TV and — continues to seek distribution through traditional cable pipes, but it’s not waiting to secure MSO deals to extend its channels’ reach through other platforms.

Gay-themed network HereTV has subscription video-on-demand deals with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Dish Network, DirecTV, AT&T and Verizon Communcations, but isn’t afraid to off er a more streamlined version of its service to what many would consider a cable competitor.

It remains to be seen whether consumers will ultimately pony up from 99 cents to $9.99 per month to watch any of the YouTube subscription channels, nor is it clear how the revenue collected will be divvied up.

Also in doubt is whether traditional cable distributors will severely penalize content providers who leave the reservation and reach carriage deals with over-the-top companies.

Still, if the YouTube subscription model proves to be successful, it could provide independent networks with a platform other than cable to deliver their branding message and content to consumers.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.