YouTube’s ambitious — and expensive — original programming push got a little more steam this week with the Monday launch of new Hollywood-centric entertainment channels from Young Hollywood and a Penske Media-Ion TV partnership.
The two new channels are part of the Google (NSDQ: GOOG) video portal’s $100 million investment in original appointment viewing; YouTube is backing up to 100 professionally produced channels.
Entertainment News Television, a co-production by ION TV and Penske Media Corp., went live at 9 a.m., promising to deliver “breaking entertainment news 24/7″ — at least until 11 p.m. when it shuts down each night. The showbiz news-and-interviews format leverages talent from Penske’s stable of entertainment-themed websites, including TVLine‘s Michael Ausiello and HollywoodLife‘s Bonnie Fuller.
The Young Hollywood Network (YHN), meanwhile, kicked off its daily 1 p.m. offering of celebrity interviews and other showbiz-themed programming with the weekly series Studio Secrets. The one-on-one interview show, which features pretty much any celebrity guest eponymously named production company YHN can get access to from its perch within Beverly Hills’ Four Seasons Hotel, kicked off Monday with an interview of actor Ewan McGregor.
Tuesday’s 1 p.m. YHN show, All Quiet on the Set, will feature behind-the-scenes visits to TV shows and movies; this week’s installment will be focused on ABC (NYSE: DIS) comedy The Middle.
YHN will round out each week with the industry-focused Power Players on Wednesdays, the celebrity-lifestyle-themed Guest List Only on Thursdays and the pop-culture-oriented YHN Trend Report on Fridays.
Young Hollywood founder and CEO R.J. Williams told paidContent that he secured a “seven-figure commitment” from YouTube to produce the five-day-a-week slate of shows.
YHN also has relationships with brands including Coca-Cola, Samsung, Research in Motion (NSDQ: RIMM) and Electronic Arts (NSDQ: ERTS) to help pay the bills, which run high.
Williams employs a staff of 25 full-time employees, plus myriad freelancers at his production company, which operates “24/7″ to keep its five-day-a-week programming commitment.
Williams, who used to produce celebrity-interview-related content for cable channels including the TV Guide Network, also rents out an entire wing at the Four Seasons.
“It’s up there,” Williams said, responding to a question about operational cost. “But when you look at it in the grand scheme of things, it’s just so efficient to be based here. We just have access to so much talent.”
Other YouTube original-content channels that have already launched include the Madonna-backed DanceOn, World Wrestling Entertainment’s Fan Nation and the satire-oriented Onion News Network.
The launch of the two channels comes 24 hours after rival Hulu announced its latest original series, Battleground. The politically themed dramedy (executive produced by the guy directing Sony’s next big Spider-Man tentpole, Marc Webb) is Hulu’s first original scripted offering.
Hulu carefully chose a traditional TV forum for the announcement: the Television Critics Tour in Pasadena, Calif. Sunday. Hulu SVP of content Andy Forssell also announced that it had picked up a documentary series, Up to Speed, from filmmaker Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused) and re-upped with documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock to produce another season of his unscripted series A Day in the Life.
Hulu’s big programming news, meanwhile, followed an announcement last week by Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) that it’s teaming with Tom Hanks’ Playtone Productions to produce an original animated series, Electric Town.