Report: YouTube getting antsy, wants to invest millions more in 'premium' content

With its audience growth stagnating, rivals like Yahoo acquiring splashy new shows and its top creators moving off the platform, YouTube is reportedly in discussions about making yet another premium content push.

Reuters says that the Google-owned (NASDAQ: GOOG) video platform is once again in discussions with studio-backed and independent producers in and around Hollywood, looking to fund shows and movies.

The news service claims it talked to several individuals who've had these discussions with YouTube. A spokesperson for the platform itself woudn't confirm the talks, saying only, "We are always exploring various content and marketing ideas to support and accelerate our creators." 

Throughout 2011, YouTube committed around $100 million to a range of entertainment, news and publishing brands, seeking transformative hits that would upgrade its current advertising inventory beyond grainy user-generated video.

To date, however, YouTube hasn't turned itself into a leading destination for TV ad dollars, with only around 2 percent of content gestated in that original programming push currently among YouTube's top programs.

Meanwhile, rivals are making splashy original programming investments. Longtime search competitor Yahoo, for example, recently made a deal to bring NBC comedy series Community online, and Vimeo--long a competitor in the user-generated video business--has recently begun working with some of its makers to create original series, such as the marijuana-delivery-themed comedy High Maintenance.

Concurrently, major YouTube content contributors like Maker Studios are also making big original content pushes, but are also looking for ways to monetize them outside of YouTube.

News of a new original programming push comes after a report last week, suggesting YouTube--whose financials are buried in Google's reporting--might not be as profitable as previously speculated. According to The Information, YouTube took in about $3.5 billion in revenue in 2013, less than Wall Street projections of around $5.6 billion.

Time spent per viewer on the platform is down, too. Viewers spent 61 percent less time on the portal in March 2014 than they did in March 2012, according to comScore data. 

For more:
- read this Reuters story

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