EXCLUSIVE: There’s a lot of last-minute scrambling among the channels poised to join Google’s potentially revolutionary initiative featuring professionally produced videos — which kicks off in earnest in just a few weeks. Several execs say they still don’t know exactly what they’ll show, when they’ll debut, and how much promotional help they’ll receive from YouTube. But one thing’s becoming clear: The initial wave of services out of the 96 picked to receive investments from YouTube will be loaded with material either from or about celebrities. That’s not part of a master plan; a lot of Web video producers already focus on pop culture and can gear up new channels in a hurry. The group includes Madonna’s DanceOn, which has been on YouTube since late 2010; it will reintroduce itself in January after it revamps its interface and programming. It plans 10 series including scripted shows, competitions, and tutorials but says it’s still figuring out when each will begin to appear. A different kind of celeb, skateboarder Tony Hawk, also is expected to have his action sports oriented Ride Channel ready next month.
When it comes to services about entertainment, some execs tell me that they’re curious to see what happens with Young Hollywood Network, which launches on January 16. It plans to have five weekly shows featuring interviews with stars and moguls including some conducted at the company’s studio in the Four Seasons Hotel. ENTV from Deadline parent PMC in a partnership with ION will focus on breaking entertainment news with frequent daily updates beginning January 16. The channel also plans a weekly show with TVLine Editor-In-Chief Michael Ausiello, a daily celebrity news chat with Hollywood Life Editor-In-Chief Bonnie Fuller, as well as a show that rounds up some of the day’s best clips from the YouTube channels. Joining the entertainment news sites sometime in late January will be Clevver News, which will have as many as nine original episodes a day including the daily Radar Latino covering Spanish-language news and celebs. Most programs will only last a few minutes. “That’s been a real challenge: What’s a YouTube viewer willing to watch?” says Clevver Media Co-Founder Michael Palmer. “A lot of people watch YouTube at work or while they’re waiting in line. We’re playing around with time.” (more…)