INTERNET SEARCH FIRM Google is readying a number of content deals with media producers that could turn Youtube into an online broadcaster capable of competing with the more established providers.
The company is close to signing and announcing partnerships with a number of organisations, according to the Wall Street Journal, but typically it is keeping quiet about its plans.
This is not surprising, since if rumours are to be believed the firm is likely to make a formal announcement next week, and has probably prepared some balloons for its celebrations.
Sources have told the WSJ that major media firms including IAC/Interactivecorp's Electus, News Corp's Shinereveille unit and RTL Group's Fremantlemedia are lined up as partners, as are skateboarding legend Tony Hawk and cops-with-rubber gloves-detective show CSI creator Anthony Zuiker.
A Youtube spokesman said the web site is "always talking to content creators and curators of all kinds about building audiences on YouTube."
Such deals are unlikely to come cheap, but Youtube expects to claw back the money spent on broadcast quality shows with advertising revenue that it will split with its partners. Users will be encouraged to subscribe to channels, which should add to the television-like effect, and the report reckons that Youtube could have as many as twenty channels covering a variety of content. µ