YouTube's Spaces shows are like HGTV -- only shorter, hipper and online.
Chris Young, left, and Joseph Gomes, the co-founders of the Digital Broadcasting Group, in New York, April 27, 2012. The two are the driving force behind Spaces, one of the new channels YouTube has introduced as part of its push into original content, which will feature shows focusing on home design for young urbanites.
In addition to silly clips of family pets, cult-film trailers and practically every music video ever made, YouTube users can now watch a home design show called "Your Place Is a Deal Breaker." In the first episode, a woman moves into her boyfriend's apartment, which has a Barack Obama poster prominently displayed in the bedroom, and enlists the help of a designer to make the space reflect both their styles.
"Obama has to go, baby," she tells her partner.
The show appears on Spaces, one of the new channels that YouTube has introduced as part of its push into original content. With a roster of programs -- other shows include "OffBeat Spaces" and the self-explanatory "I Live With My Mom" -- shown in three- to five-minute episodes, most of which focus on young urbanites, Spaces aims to be a hipper HGTV. YouTube is selling ads that will be shown on the channel, with the revenue shared by YouTube and the content creator.
Chris Young, chief executive of Digital Broadcasting Group, the production company behind Spaces, said the channel plans to upload a new video every day.
"We see ourselves as a broadcast network," Young said. "Only we do it digitally."
He and his co-founder, Joseph Gomes, who handles the creative side, spoke about the challenges of online programming and why they think home design shows will always be popular.
Q Do you think YouTube is the TV of tomorrow?
Young: We're all pretty screen-agnostic. Somebody sent me a video this morning and I started watching it on my phone. I got into the office and finished it on my laptop, and I tuned into the stock market opening on my TV. It's whatever is convenient.
Gomes: We like the idea of these barriers coming down. In traditional broadcasting, the rules are very much ensconced. With this, it's the Wild West. It's almost like an Oklahoma land grab in terms of getting in there and creating original content.
Q But YouTube is also like a vast ocean. I had trouble finding the Spaces channel. How will users find your shows among the millions of videos?
Young: When you go to the home page of YouTube, you're going to be able to select your favorite channels. Once you select Spaces, your likes and preferences will funnel to you the type of content you're interested in. It's like a virtual remote control that you program.
Gomes: YouTube has this massive ecosystem that doesn't touch on the home and design space. The challenge for us is how do we interact with that ecosystem, use it, exploit it, but also go outside of it to bring in viewers to the YouTube channel?
Q How is a Spaces show different from what you'd see on HGTV or other TV networks?
Gomes: I remember sitting down with Chris and defining what kind of channel we wanted to make. We wanted to be urban and cosmopolitan. I don't think that's necessarily a target for HGTV. They're more focused on suburban moms.
Q But you dabble in mom-centric programming with "I Live With My Mom." How did you come up with that idea?
Gomes: It was trying to find eccentric characters, because these people are a little nuts. One girl lives with her mom and has dolls everywhere. Another guy is a hip-hop mogul in his mom's basement. We wanted to have a makeover program because I think a lot of people who get into HGTV or these design shows are in it for the reveal.
Q Is it difficult to produce so much content?
Gomes: It definitely stretches the production dollar. But we made a conscious decision to have constant programming. We wanted a glut of content to engage the viewer so there was a reason to keep coming back.
Q Why do you think there are so many home and design shows now?
Young: It's in the hierarchy of needs. It is one of those fundamentals. We need shelter. We need food. Sex is in the hierarchy of needs, too.
Gomes: That's also kind of big on the Internet.