May 26, 2007
YouTube Expands Role in Providing Branded Channels, Encouraging User-Generated Episodic Content

YouTube has launched two interesting recent initiatives, one encouraging its continuing process to be seen by media producers as a platform for the cross-distribution of extant media footage, and the other encouraging viewers to submit user-generated content for a contest. The two fronts demonstrate the continuing ways in which the Google-owned video platform is trying to deal with its positioning as both a forum for sharing video and a legitimate business model worthy of the hefty investment the company has made in it.

With National Geographic, YouTube has formed a partnership for short videos that the company has created for its Web site and now will allow for sharing among YouTube users as well. The content is available here.

As I wrote about last week, National Geographic struck a similar deal for a branded channel for video content on MySpace as well.

Meanwhile, YouTube is also hosting a sketch comedy contest that will build through a nine-week contest and three rounds of competition to find the best amateur sketch comedian in the YouTube video sharing community. Hollywood professionals will choose 20 submissions for the first round, and those 20 videos will be available for users to judge.

From June 7 to June 13, viewers will vote on those first submissions, and the top 10 videos will move on to the second round. Those 10 winners will have to submit a second episode by June 19, and the community will again be able to vote from June 20 to June 27 to narrow the field to five in the second round of voting.

The top five videos will submit a third episode by July 3, and the YouTube community will vote for their favorite between July 4 to July 11. The winning episode series will be announced on July 12.

In short, YouTube is using the contest, then, to help encourage both the creation of and the audience for independently produced online television content. See the press release for more.

Further, Sierra Mist is playing an important role as sponsor, with one of the perks of winning being that the company's Sierra Mist Lemon Squeeze brand will give the winner a production budget for an original comedy short they will feature on their Web site.

As I wrote about before, Sierra Mist was also involved with the Stand Up or Sit Down video submission contest through MySpace in conjunction with TBS, in which aspiring standup comedians submitted their acts for evaluation from the MySpace user community.

The soda brand seems pretty intent that involvement with user-generated content will reach their desired audience and lead to a positive aura for their brand...and featuring video from the YouTube winner on their site furthers their involvement with user-generated content substantial.