BBC Worldwide has launched its second YouTube channel dedicated to original content as it continues its plans to build a social video ecosystem and widen its global social audience.
The commercial arm of the BBC has worked alongside 360 Production to launch the channel, called Head Squeeze, focusing on topical science content created exclusively for YouTube and hosted by Top Gear presenter James May (pictured).
The channel will cover topics including science, technology, history and current affairs in half-hour, weekly episodes, with May and a team of scientists and comedians offering viewers the chance to be involved in the discussion via other social networks including Twitter.
Simon Danker, BBC Worldwide commercial director, Content and Production, said it is on the lookout for sponsorship partners for the channel and is keen to work with other third parties with factual-themed content channels on YouTube.
In the short term focus will be on building engagement around the channel, while cross-fertilising content from other social channels and increasing the subscriber base, but in future there could be further opportunities to monetise the content outside of the standard YouTube ads, he added.
“There’s opportunity for brands to work with us on a sponsorship basis around premium content like this on YouTube and we would be keen to have more ad partnerships like this,” added Danker.
Danker believes YouTube is shedding its traditional identity as a platform for user-generated content and becoming a powerful destination for premium-quality content.
“YouTube is no longer just about cats on skateboards but a platform which lets us get much closer to our audience, and means we can find out very quickly what the audience thinks of the content,” he said.
However, the huge volume of content available on the video-sharing platform has rendered it more difficult to achieve stand-out on the platform, even for major brands, according to Danker.
“It is not enough to just have great content on YouTube and expect to automatically get views, it is just as important to have the skill to run the channel and sustain subscriber’s interest and engagement.
“It is necessary to merge together the production of broadcast-quality content with the digital marketing skills needed to sustain the interest. We have been investing a lot more resource in that area, and 360 Production is great to work with because their roots are in factual TV but they really get digital,” he said.
BBC Worldwide will focus on cross-fertilising content from its other social channels including Facebook and Twitter, as it looks to create a social video ecosystem, according to Danker.
Most of the content will be scripted but one of the seven content strands planned will see presenters responding to topics and themes that are trending on Twitter.
Head Squeeze is the second original content channel the BBC has launched, having unveiled Earth Unplugged last year. Previously it focused on running short-form, archive video-on-demand content via its YouTube channels, which now have over two million global subscribers.
Those who want to participate in the conversation around the channel can use the Twitter handle @TheHeadSqueeze.