With big media congloms absent from YouTubeâs lineup of 53 Internet pay channels, childrenâs programming could be the sole category in the bunch that has any chance of ringing the cash register.
For starters, consumers say they would be most interested in paying for YouTube channels from mainstream networks and studios, said IBB Consulting partner Jonathan Weitz, whose media clients include cablers, broadcasters, studios and digital firms.
If thatâs the main indicator of success, then the kidsâ content in YouTubeâs pay-channel initial batch may be the only group to fit the bill — especially with families looking to economize by canceling cable or satellite TV service.
Sesame Workshop, one of the biggest and most-trusted TV programming providers for younger children, has signed on for the YouTube initiative. However, the nonprofit org hasnât launched its pay channel on the site, which is set to include full episodes of âSesame Streetâ and other skeins.
Other partners in the kid sector with a TV pedigree include National Geographicâs NatGeo Kids ($3.99 per month), which features nature programming and animated fare, and DHX Media, whose library includes such popular shows as âCaillou,â âInspector Gadgetâ and âYo Gabba Gabba!â and has a distribution dealÂ to supply CBSâs Cookie Jar TV weekend morning block.
Canadian studio Nelvana Enterprises, a supplier to Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and other nets, is offering the Treehouse Direct channel on YouTube ($3.99 per month), with animated series including âBabar,â âLittle Bear,â âFranklin & Friendsâ and âMiss Spiderâs Sunny Patch Friends.â
The Jim Henson Co.âs family channel ($2.99 monthly) will provide skeins including âFraggle Rock,â âSid the Science Kidâ and âPajanimals.â And Baby First TV — which is carried as linear network on DirecTV and Dish Network — is going direct on YouTube for $1.99 monthly for a slate of programming aimed at babies and toddlers.
Malik Ducard, YouTubeâs director of content partnerships, called out the kidsâ category when he was asked on a call with reporters which genre was best positioned to do well in the model. âI think itâs a great category,â he said. âAs a parent, Iâm excited about it.â
Of the non-kid channels,Â YouTube's lineup is filled with special-interest video selections, including horror films, how-to videos, obscure indie movies, gay and lesbian lifestyle and British TV shows.
The premium channel from Ultimate Fighting Championship, a provider of mixed-martial arts pay-per-view events through cable and satellite providers and has a deal with Fox to carry live matches, could prove to be popular with its relatively big fan base. YouTube had pursued WWE, the wrestling entertainment giant, for the pay-channel launch, but WWE opted to refrain for now; instead, the YouTube lineup includesÂ TNAâs Impact Wrestling channel.
Other reasons YouTubeâs pay channels for children could actually work: The channels are all ad-free, an important concern for parents. In addition, younger kids donât particularly care if a show theyâre watching is older — as long as it captures their interest.
âAnimation generally is evergreen â it doesnât date itself,â said Michael Hirsh, exec chairman of DHX, which is launching three channels.
DHXâs three channels under the YouTube paid subscriber model, each priced at $2.99 per month, are: DHX Junior, a preschool channel with shows including âDoodlebopsâ and âBusytown Mysteriesâ; DHX Kids, aimed at kids 2 to 12, featuring âSabrinaâ the animated series, âTrollz,â and âHorselandâ; and DHX Retro, aimed at a crossover aud of both kids and adults, with âInspector Gadget,â âPaddington Bears,â âSuper Mario Bros.â and âSonic the Hedgehog.â
In addition to its CBS deal, DHX also provides programming Â to Netflix. Hirsh said the companyâs off-TV deals donât conflict with its arrangement with the Eye. âItâs another choice consumers will have,â he said.