YouTube’s addition of over 100 premium original channels is well underway, with a number of programmers already making new shows available on the site. The latest group of channels comes from the action sports vertical, which will finally give skateboarding, surfing, urban mountain biking (?!?!) and other extreme sports fans a place to catch up on the all the latest moves in the industry.
The lineup of new channels includes:
- Alli Sports, which appears to be focused on providing tips for amateur action sports enthusiasts and giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look into their favorite stars.
- Network A, which highlights the best tricks and personalities of action sports professionals like Paul Rodriguez, Ryan Sheckler, Shaun White and Kelly Slater.
- The Red Bull Channel, which will feature 13 episodic series chronicling “the competition and daily lives of the world’s best action sports athletes.”
- and RIDE, which is a 24-hour channel about the skateboard lifestyle that will feature Tony Hawk, Jamie Thomas and others. (The best part about RIDE appears to be the Gnar Zone, which is a fictional hunt for the next big action sports star. See below.)
For YouTube, the introduction of its new action sports channels is a way to tap into a group of passionate sports fans that aren’t currently served very well by today’s cable networks. While ESPN and others occasionally have action sports coverage, there’s nothing nearly as comprehensive as what YouTube has assembled, in part because audiences generally aren’t big enough to support the economics of putting them on cable.
It’s just one more example of how YouTube is democratizing content and reaching audiences that have previously been underserved. And how the availability of web original content can make a dent in traditional TV viewing, by reaching out to the niches.