Millions of people went to YouTube to watch the debate live and later for the playback.
By Jaquetta White
NASHVILLE - As it continues a bid to woo viewers from television by offering original content of its own, YouTube is launching a channel Wednesday dedicated to country music and its fans, with programming created and produced by Nashville artists and firms.
YouTube has partnered with Los Angeles entertainment firm Greenlight Media & Marketing LLC to create the Country Now channel. Greenlight has agreed to a one-year deal to produce at least eight shows, or about 20 hours of original programming, for the channel.
Each episode will run up to 20 minutes long.
Greenlight President Dominic Sandifer said his company beat out several other firms for the opportunity to create the channel. He declined to provide financial details of the deal.
Sandifer said he pitched the idea for the channel to YouTube because country music fans lacked a designated place to gather on the website.
"They're really underserved. There isn't one channel where they are getting their country music," Sandifer said. "We felt like that was really a huge, untapped opportunity here."
Although YouTube is best known for hosting amateur videos, the company has been making a play for a share of the television market by investing in TV-quality programming. A year ago, the company invested $100 million, according to reports, to launch 100 channels with content created exclusively for YouTube. The company renewed deals with 30 to 40 of them at the end of last year.
Country Now launches with four shows of varying length and style, all created and produced in Nashville. Hear & Now, hosted by Stokes Nielsen of The Lost Trailers, will highlight the latest and greatest country music singles each week. OMC! or Oh My Country! is a bi-weekly segment that will focus on fashion. The weekly Country Download will feature country music news, reviews and recommendations. I Luv My Country will be produced in the style of a classic clip show, with commentary from animated characters.
Both Country Download and I Luv My Country are being produced by Nashville-based Revolution Pictures, which has produced videos for Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and Tim McGraw. The YouTube work represents a shift in Revolution's business to include more content created specifically for the web.
"For a major production company to start creating YouTube content is an interesting thing," said Randy Brewer, the firm's owner and executive producer. "But it's happening because people want to see it. We want to help them launch this and, hopefully, we'll be doing several more shows with them."