There is more to YouTube than videos of talking dogs. Its vast collection of educational videos includes those from University of California Television (UCTV). In March, order was brought to the chaos by the creation of channels offering original programming funded by YouTube. Existing content creators ranging from TED to Madonna were invited to participate; UCTV has bragging rights as being the only university channel. “YouTube is moving into the content creation business by [investing] in a select few channels,” explains Lynn Burnstan, UCTV’s director. “They are trying to nudge the conversation about what is TV.” At the time the new UCTV Prime channel was launched, its existing channel had at least 50,000 subscribers and more than 4,800 videos.
Until now, UCTV programming aggregated content from across the 10 UC system campuses. Now the channel can “explore the potential of campuses creating content,” Burnstan says. “We’re redistributing the funding to the campuses.” The development is an opportunity to add to the public discourse and allow the voice of the university and campus constituents to be heard, she adds. “And it definitely raises the visibility of, and profile of, the university and those featured.”
Material created will be exclusive to YouTube for 18 months. The plan is to add content twice a week, ranging from mini-series to short pieces. The channel launched with the series “Naked Art,” which explores UC’s public art collection. “Prime: Vote” is another series, with videos featuring UC faculty offering research-backed commentary on 2012 election season issues.
Burnstan is excited about exploring the connection to social media. “This was a chance for us to change the conversation, too,” she says.