Google's YouTube, looking to attract more advertising with professionally produced content, plans to launch some 96 new video channels in the next year featuring original content from a range of entertainment, sports and news partners.
Content partners YouTube announced late Friday include: Shaquille O'Neal's Comedy Shaq Network, Madonna's DanceOn, Deepak Chopra's Chopra Media/Generate, The Onion, Thomson Reuters, Slate, Ashton Kutcher, Hearst Magazines, Meredith, Varsity Pictures and The Wall Street Journal, which plans to launch a lifestyle channel covering design, fashion, travel, wine, food and tech.
Traditional TV networks and movie studios are largely absent from the lineup. World Wrestling Entertainment is in the mix with plans to launch something called "WWE Fan Nation," which promises "new, exclusive, behind-the-scenes videos that give unheralded [sic] access to WWE superstars and divas outside the ring."
Lionsgate has a fitness channel in the works, while animation producer Frederator Networks is developing "Cartoon Hangover" and FremantleMedia has a still-unnamed pets and animals channel. Other content providers include CafeMom, Demand Media, Magical Elves and InStyle magazine, My Damn Channel, Pitchfork and TED Conferences.
YouTube -- the Internet's No. 1 video site in terms of usage, serving 18.6 billion videos in September, according to comScore -- did not offer any video clips showing examples of the programming that the new channels would carry.
The full list of content partners is available here: www.youtube.com/creators/original-channels.html.
"Cable television expanded our viewing possibilities from just a handful of channels to hundreds, and brought us some of the most defining media experiences of the last few decades -- think MTV, ESPN and CNN," Robert Kyncl, YouTube's global head of content partnerships, wrote in a blog post. "Today, the Web is bringing us entertainment from an even wider range of talented producers, and many of the defining channels of the next generation are being born, and watched, on YouTube."
The first of the new channels will appear on YouTube starting in November and continue rolling out over the next year, Kyncl said. Kyncl was formerly head of digital content acquisition at Netflix.
Separately Friday, Google announced details of version 2.0 of its Web-centric TV software, which has been redesigned to improve finding and playing YouTube content and features a simpler user interface and the ability to tap into apps written for Android mobile devices.