YouTube reportedly frets as stars tempted by competing OTT services

As the popularity of home-grown YouTube stars explodes, in many cases thanks to the efforts of multichannel networks, their cachet in the over-the-top world is growing, too. With potential suitors circling, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG)-owned YouTube is throwing out some attractive lures of its own to keep those new celebrities in the fold.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, said that Google is offering bonuses to popular YouTube channel owners for agreeing to multiyear exclusivity deals, and even offering to fund content production for some.

The WSJ said that OTT startups like Vessel, the latest venture by former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, and social media stalwart Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), which has pursued its video strategy aggressively this year, have tried to lure away YouTube stars.

"The moves show how emerging competitors are forcing Google to rethink YouTube's traditional positioning as a "platform" where video creators can upload what they like. They still do, but YouTube now must put more skin in the game, investing to keep top stars on the site," WSJ's Rolfe Winkler wrote.

If true, the report shows that Vessel and Facebook are taking a somewhat similar tack to Vimeo. Already established as a go-to site for independent filmmakers and users who want more control over the content they upload, Vimeo in March established a $10 million fund to help indie filmmakers produce and market their movies--contingent on those movies being exclusive to Vimeo for at least 30 days.

Outside of providers like Vimeo, though, many individual YouTube creators don't have the resources to produce their videos beyond the platform. With 45 percent of their ad revenues going straight back to YouTube, and in some cases paying additional percentage to an MCN that (hopefully) helps them promote their content, YouTube stars may not need much prompting to jump ship if the platform, and the price, is right.

For more:
- The Wall Street Journal has this story

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