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Disney To Produce Original YouTube Content


From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Guy Raz.

There's a new deal between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Disney and Google have announced the venture for Disney to make original videos for Google's YouTube. Joining us now to explain the big implications of this relatively small deal is NPR's Laura Sydell. And, Laura, what exactly are Disney and YouTube doing together?

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: What's happening is there's going to be original Disney content on YouTube. And this is new. There has been some already previously made content, but Disney's going to be doing things like, for example, they said they're going to take a game, a very popular game they have called "Where's My Water?" and its main character, Swampy, and they are going to turn them into a short special YouTube programming, and it's going to be family-friendly. And so that's what they're doing together. And there's going to be a lot of other things, too, they say over time.

RAZ: Here's what I don't understand. Why would Disney want to make original new videos and put them up against, you know, videos of cute kittens or sneezing pandas that you see on YouTube?

SYDELL: Good question. Well, has not been the kind of hit, I think, that Disney would really like it to be. In fact, Disney's digital media group hasn't even really been that profitable. They've had layoffs, so it hasn't been that great. On the other hand, YouTube's kind of cool. Young people really like YouTube, and they think very positively about it.

So while on the one hand, many parents aren't so happy about having their kids go to YouTube because they're worried, you know, that - who knows what they'll find next to those cute little puppy videos...

RAZ: Right.

SYDELL: ...if you put Disney. But if you put some Disney content there, right, well, that's going to make YouTube more family-friendly, and that's going to be nice for YouTube. So everybody gets something here out of this deal. And, of course, the other thing, too, is it's going to - YouTube is on a lot of mobile devices, and so Disney is going to get their stuff on to mobile devices. And I'm sure a lot of parents will like that because, you know, here's my phone. Can you do this for a few minutes, right?

RAZ: Well, it's clear to me what Disney gets out of it. It's still not clear to me what YouTube gets out of it. I mean, why would they want exclusive content from Disney?

SYDELL: Well, I think, you know, if you look at where YouTube has been heading and where it's going, it's increasingly trying to position itself as a company that's a lot more than just homemade videos about, you know, babies and puppies and kitties. You know, they have, for example, in the music business, you've started to see professional music videos from Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and other big name celebrities. They also recently just announced a deal. They're going to have something like 100 channels, and they're bringing in Madonna, Ashton Kutcher, Deepak Chopra, and they're all going to have separate channels. Madonna's going to do a dance channel. And the idea here is that this is going to attract a lot more advertising than those doggy videos.

RAZ: Right.

SYDELL: Right? You know, so that's the thing, because advertisers are not sure what you're going to get when you're putting your stuff on a homemade video. But if it's professional content, for example like Disney, right? I mean, that's great stuff. You really would like to have your ad somewhere next to Disney content.

RAZ: Laura, if we're talking about streaming video, you've got to talk about Hulu and Netflix. These are the other - obviously, the other big names in streaming video. They are also trying out their own original content. Does this mean that they are going to be in direct competition with YouTube?

SYDELL: Absolutely. I think what we're seeing here as we move into the future is there's going to be kind of a third way. So you've had, you know, historically, you had the networks, which were just a few channels, then you had cable, which was hundreds of channels, and now you're going to have thousands of channels. And everybody wants a little piece of that, the stream services. They want to create their own content so they - for example, you go to Netflix, which has a deal with Kevin Spacey. They'll go to YouTube. They have Disney content. And more and more, you see televisions that are connected to the internet, so I think it's about competing for that space.

RAZ: Thank you so much, Laura.

SYDELL: You're welcome.

RAZ: That's NPR's Laura Sydell. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.