March 11, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Steve Jobs, in one of his many “Android sucks” quips, famously said that users don’t want “amateur hour” when it comes to web-based entertainment. Though the billions of views racked up by YouTube-specific content creators clearly proves that Jobs is wrong, YouTube is delivering more premium content these days.
Google is currently promoting Girl Walks Into a Bar, an 80-minute feature starring Zachary Quinto (Sylar from Heroes), Rosario Dawson, Carla Gugino, Danny Devito, and Josh Hartnett. All of these stars are in the “first major motion picture made for the Internet” because Shangrila Entertainment is showing the film for free on YouTube. Girl is premium content available for free thanks to four 15-second breaks sponsored by Lexus, and it’s a way that Google could get the ball rolling on Google TV.
YouTube is one of the best sources of entertainment for Google TV owners. The major networks have blocked the Logitech Revue and Sony Internet TV, Hulu is missing in action, and there are only so many times you can watch Hercules on Netflix before you get bored. This is great and worrisome for Google. It’s great because people are funneled to YouTube, but worrisome because it limits the potential reach of GTV. No matter how many people are entertained by KassemG interviewing someone on the streets, a much larger portion of the population will be more interested in seeing feature-length or scripted entertainment.
On Monday, YouTube acquired Next New Networks, a company that helps YouTubers create higher-quality videos and increase their views. Next New was affiliated in everything from comedy like Auto Tune The News to cooking shows like Hungry in Brooklyn. The company now works directly with YouTube fold to help increase content quality and develop more members eligible for a YouTube partnership (and the money that comes with it). In conjunction with the Creator Institute, these moves could attract more talent to YouTube.
Google TV is not going to replace movies or television any time soon, but its usefulness could get a bump with higher-quality entertainment on YouTube. Girl Walks Into a Bar is an interesting test of how effective YouTube can be as an entertainment outlet. The ad dollars will not be enough to match movie theater ticket sales or TV ad rates, but it could serve as a way for smaller, independent filmmakers to deliver something deeper than the cat videos, vlogs, and fail clips typically associated with YouTube. As a fan of Freddie Wong, I would be on the edge of my set if he released a YouTube-targeted film similar to his action-packed videos. I could use some more epic entertainment.
Girl Walks Into the Bar full-length film embedded from YouTube.