Peter Kafka

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Channel Changer: One-on-One With YouTube Content Boss Robert Kyncl (Video)

Robert Kyncl Portrait
YouTube is trying to take on TV by beefing up its selection of “premium” content: It’s doling out millions to famous and not-so-famous people to make stuff for the world’s largest video site, and creating “channels” to make that stuff easier to find.

Google announced the plan last fall, but yesterday, YouTube content boss Robert Kyncl held a formal coming-out party for the plan, with a presentation for a packed house at the Consumer Electronics Show. And after that, I talked to him about why YouTube had changed course.

After all, plenty of people seem to like YouTube just the way it is. It attracts 800 million users a month, who watch a staggering three billion hours of clips a day. And while Google has never come out and disclosed the site’s finances, it frequently hints that it is a big business, and perhaps a profitable one.

And if YouTube really wants to get more premium stuff for the site, why not go out and buy the stuff that Hollywood and the TV guys are already making? Google could certainly afford it, and Big Media has gotten very comfortable about putting its stuff online, as long as it’s getting a big check for it. Kyncl knows that well, since he used to arrange those deals at Netflix, before joining Google in 2010.

You can see Kyncl’s answers here — apologies for the extra-shaky cam — and below that, you can see the full CES presentation. And in a couple weeks, you can hear from Kyncl’s boss, YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar, at our D: Dive Into Media conference. Registration details here.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work