Even if the rest of the world is having trouble believing in on-demand television in the wake of Netflix's (Nasdaq: NFLX ) poorly received second-quarter earnings report, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) appears to be making a bigger bet on the medium.
According to a recent story in Wired, Google's efforts to tie YouTube accounts to Google+ profiles comes with an interesting side-effect: When you write a comment or upload something new, the system encourages you to use your real name. Actually, it's worse than that. Choose to remain anonymous and YouTube demands an explanation.
The goal, it would seem, is to mimic Facebook's (Nasdaq: FB ) authenticity. The social network makes it extremely difficult for users to hide their true identities.
Like MySpace before it, YouTube has become famous as a haven for people who hide behind anonymity when posting mocking or otherwise hateful comments to videos. Google needs to cut down on the vitriol if it's to transform YouTube from a hobbyist's playground into a legitimate online TV network with real channels and big-budget advertisers.
There's plenty of progress to report. YouTube now has about 100 professionally run channels with original programming. These properties complement existing heavies, such as music video broadcaster Vevo, which is minority owned by Sony (NYSE: SNE ) and generates some 600 million monthly views for the site.
YouTube's custom channels are putting up small by comparison though respectable numbers in the meantime. For example, personal favorite The Onion saw 1.24 million views last week alone, Deadline.com reports. That's about on par with good network shows such as NBC's Community, which was drawing 1.7 million viewers per episode as of April. Other top "stations" include news channel SourceFed (second on Deadline.com's list) and geek-culture favorite Geek & Sundry (16th).
My point? There are already enough heavy hitters in YouTube's lineup to make it a legitimate network alternative. Cutting down on the commenting awfulness that sometimes comes with the Internet should only up the ante on networks struggling to keep their audiences from looking elsewhere.
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