YouTube, Google TV Challenging Cable Companies With 100 Channels

Google's YouTube video unit is rolling out 100 professional channels to compete with cable companies. Ideally, users would access Google TV to watch the channels.

Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) YouTube arm took its first public step to unveil its reported $100 million investment in content producers, introducing channels from 100 celebrities and major content producers to coax users to spend more time on the Website.

YouTube hasn't hid from the fact that it wants to boost user engagement, which will vastly increase the number of ads it serves and profit the video sharing unit makes from those ads.

To do this, the company needs to increase the amount of time users spend on the Website from an average of 15 minutes to a few hours. One way to do this is by offering professionally produced content channels.

If that sounds like YouTube is looking to challenge cable companies, it is. Only instead of pairing the pipes with the content, Google is simply serving more content over the Web, including channels from Madonna, rapper Jay-Z, The Onion, actor Ashton Kutcher and former NBA great Shaquille O'Neal, who is hosting a comedy show.

The content, which the Wall Street Journal (also a content producer in the program) said will include 25 hours of fresh programming a day, will cover TV, film, music, news, sports and fitness. YouTube offered a sneak peek of the channels here.

Robert Kyncl, global head of content partnerships for YouTube, made no secret about this in a corporate blog post:

"Our goal with this channels expansion, along with the grants and educational programs we've launched in the past year, is to bring an even broader range of entertainment to YouTube, giving you more reasons to keep coming back again and again. And for advertisers, these channels will represent a new way to engage and reach their global consumers."

YouTube won't disclose the financial details, but the Journal said YouTube is expected to give some content creators 55 percent of ad revenue after YouTube makes back the cash advances it paid them.

YouTube said the first of these new original channels will appear next month, available on a Web-connected device.

What YouTube would love most of all is if owners of Google TV sets, including Sony Internet televisions and Blu-ray players, as well as users of Logitech Revue TV sets, began watching the new YouTube channels on a regular basis.

Fittingly, YouTube announced its pro channel news merely hours after unveiling its new and improved Google TV service, which includes applications from the Android Market, better search and, of course, a retooled YouTube channel.

Google TV can collect information about content users watch with the users' permission. Naturally, such a pairing with YouTube can provide Google with considerable targeted advertising opportunities.