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YouTube is Becoming More Like Normal Television

5/13/2013 7:58 AM Eastern

The Economist writes: One of the most popular videos this month on YouTube, an online video site, is a commercial by a bottled-water firm, Evian. In it, adults walking by a shop window see their baby lookalikes reflected, and start dancing with their former selves. The grown-up YouTube, however, looks nothing like it did in its infancy. Once a warehouse for pirated clips and amateur footage of cats, YouTube has been trying to transform itself into a sleeker, more sophisticated site that can compete with television for advertisers. It will soon look even more like television. On May 9th it is expected to announce that it will charge users for subscriptions to some “channels”.

Novice clips have attracted a tonne of views, but not a tonne of money, because advertisers are reluctant to place adverts next to shoddy homemade videos. Since Google bought YouTube in 2006 for nearly $1.7 billion, it has tried to make its adopted child polished, not just popular. Last year it spent an estimated $300m funding and marketing new “channels” with higher-budget comedy, drama and other shows, with some run by established media firms such as Fremantle.


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