Will Google's New YouTube Strategy Maker It Harder to Win With Original Programming?

As executives dither, Wil Wheaton takes to the Internet to fund one of the more popular original programs on Google’s YouTube network.

Tim Beyers
Tim Beyers
Apr 21, 2014 at 9:45AM
Technology and Telecom

Just when it looked like Google's (NASDAQ:GOOGL)(NASDAQ:GOOG) YouTube was going to make bigger investments in new programming with Susan Wojcicki joining as CEO, at least one of the network's big winners is looking elsewhere. Fool contributor Tim Beyers explains the details in the following video.

In a recent interview with Wired magazine, actor Wil Wheaton said he turned to the Internet to raise funds for the third season of his popular YouTube board-gaming show, TableTop, when Google executives meandered. The waiting "messed up our whole schedule," Wheaton told Wired.

Tim says the hand-wringing, while not entirely unexpected, should frustrate fans and investors. TableTop is part of the Geek & Sundry channel on YouTube, and as such, is one of many shows to received $100 million in early support for original programming. Google ended the lifeline in November, leaving questions about its plan for funding existing and new originals. Wheaton's experience suggests that several issues remain unresolved.

And yet there's no disputing the success of TableTop, an award-winning series which has a history of boosting board-game sales. Episodes also tend to dominate the "most popular" list of videos broadcast by Geek & Sundry.

Knowing that, it's no surprise Wheaton needed less than a week to raise the $500,000 required to produce season three of the show. Backers have since contributed another $119,000 with more than three weeks left in the campaign

Google, for its part, still backs YouTube originals -- but with resources rather than cash. "Creator spaces" in London, Los Angeles, and Tokyo double as studios and offer training sessions. A fourth center in New York's Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan is planned for later this year. 

That's sure to be good for some up-and-comers. TableTop is a more proven property. Will the show remain with YouTube after achieving all its fundraising goals? Possibly, Tim says, but there's less of an incentive to do so now than before. An issue that could make it tougher for Wojcicki and her team to attract new originals to Google's platform.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Do you believe in Google's YouTube programming strategy?  Why or why not? Please watch the video to get the full story and then leave a comment to let us know your take, including whether you would buy, sell, or short Google stock at current prices.