YouTube has revealed details of its UK content strategy for the first time, urging producers to pitch niche ideas and putting well in excess of £10m up for grabs.

The Google-owned video-sharing site is advancing producers around £500,000 a year to become part of its Original Channels strategy, and plans to launch “tens of channels”, YouTube director of TV Ben McOwen Wilson told Broadcast.

He is leading the company’s charge into original content in the UK, Germany and France, following a push that kicked off in the US in October.

An initial pitch process is taking place over the coming weeks, when McOwen Wilson will greenlight channels that target audiences in areas such as fashion, sport, music and news with a steady stream of short or longer-form content.

He said the “door remained open” for proposals from producers.

“We’ve got a sense of the kind of areas we’ll look for channels in, based on what’s popular on YouTube, but we are not being rigid. We’re looking for partners who have a great idea, passion and can show what the YouTube audience thinks about that genre.”

He added that the ability to drive an audience to the content was an important factor in securing funding, and welcomed joint pitches from indies and digital experts to help create the next major channel brands.

But he warned: “Indies must realise they are not just delivering a show. On YouTube, it’s as much about engaging, finding, embracing and reacting to your audience as about the strength of the video.”

The plan is for YouTube to advance funding that will be recouped through the advertising revenue generated on the channel. Once the advance has been earned back, the model shifts to a more equal revenue split.

Exploiting niches is vital to the model because Google is able to charge brands more for the highly targeted ads that feature around the content. YouTube’s measure of success has also shifted beyond volume of views to take into account viewing time.

“We’re trying to prove that it’s possible to make money back from YouTube for a wider range of content than people can imagine,” said McOwen Wilson.

The plan is that YouTube will be able to step back from funding once the model is established.

“We’d be mad not to continue to offer advances if we see great ideas where it’s too difficult for a partner to launch,” McOwen Wilson said. “But in the US, we’ve seen huge venture capital interest that will drive the businesses forward, so we don’t need to fund them.”

The Original Channels team also includes Patrick Walker, director of music content partnerships, and head of sport Jeff Nathenson.

Your Guide to YouTube
Pitching a channel

Core channel concept
Find an angle. Great pitches note what’s special about the platform. Use YouTube analytics to see what people are watching.

Programming overview
Plan a predictable schedule of content uploads for your channel. Clearly define any channel sub-brands.

Production capability
Delivering content at a sustainable price point is as important as quality.

Marketing and promotion
Driving traffic online and via social media is particularly important.

Audience development capability
YouTube content is not just TV content stuck on a website. Reach out to your audience and react to them.

US YouTube Channels
At A Glance

Channels already ordered in the US include:

American Hipster, by Seedwell
Comedy channel exploring pop culture through the lens of hipsterism.

Awesomeness, by Varsity Pictures
Teen destination for comedy, sport and reality from Smallville producer Brian Robbins.

Un-named pets channel, by FremantleMedia
Celebrating the bond between people and their pets, showing how they enhance our lives.

KickTV, by Major League Soccer & Bedrocket Media
Connecting soccer fans to the game with daily news, info and entertainment

BlackBoxTV, by Black Box TV
Scripted series from CSI creator Anthony E Zuiker, Tony E Valenzuela and Collective Digital Studio.

This story was first published by Broadcast.