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YouTube counting on former Netflix exec to help it turn a profit

Robert Kyncl negotiated the deals that gave Netflix subscribers access to thousands of movies and television shows. Now he's hoping to repeat that feat as head of TV and film for Google and YouTube.

May 31, 2011|By Dawn C. Chmielewski, Los Angeles Times

"We've had many very interesting conversations with YouTube about things we could do," said Thomas Gewecke, president of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution. "Robert was able to bring those conversations to specific closure."

Entertainment executives said Kyncl not only understands the studios' business, but he also has been receptive to suggestions about creating a store that segregates the paid content from the freely available, user-generated videos.

"Robert's come in with a refreshing approach, saying, first off, 'Content creators, how do you want to work with YouTube?'" said Zander Lurie, CBS Corp.'s senior vice president of strategic development.

Kyncl isn't just courting the major studios. He also is in talks with digital production companies including Ashton Kutcher's Katalyst to create themed channels that combine original online content with a curated selection of amateur videos.

"There's so much posted there [on YouTube], what happens is you end up with these popularity cul de sacs," said Katalyst President Anthony Batt. "What Google/YouTube has to add, and what people really need, are strong, opinionated programmers saying … this is an organized collection of content that is really meaningful."

Kyncl's goal is to leverage YouTube's unparalleled global reach by creating programming that can't be found on cable or satellite TV. The site can target unaddressed niches — such as its Threadbanger channel for do-it-yourself fashionistas — because of its ability to amass an audience around genres too narrow for traditional TV, he said.

"There is a Food Network on TV, but there are plenty of vegans around the world who would be incredibly interested in video content around that," Kyncl said. "So, think about us as a complement to what happens in the traditional space."

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