London - Talent show guru Simon Cowell
is taking his popular television formula to find new stars
seeking fast fame to YouTube, joining a growing trend of
companies using the internet to bypass traditional broadcasters.
Cowell, the mastermind behind global TV franchises The X
Factor and Got Talent, unveiled plans on Monday for the first
global audition channel, called The You Generation, that will be
launched in 26 countries on 20 March.
Syco Entertainment, Cowell's joint venture with Sony Music,
said it had teamed up with YouTube to run 26 fortnightly
contests over the next year to give people the chance to upload
audition videos showing their skills and win a cash prize.
'Amazing grand prize'
"Our mission is to discover the world's next big YouTube
stars and showcase their amazing and unique talents on The You
Generation channel," they said in a joint statement.
YouTube, the video-sharing website set up in 2005, has
become a new way to uncover talent, most notably launching the
career of Canadian teen pop star Justin Bieber.
Organisers of the new YouTube channel said wannabe stars can
upload videos in a list of categories, from make-up artists to
style gurus, chefs to vocalists, adding that all submissions
would be judged by Syco executives and relevant experts.
Every fortnight one winner will get a cash prize and become
a finalist to win "an amazing grand prize". No further details
were available but winners of Cowell's singing contest, The X
Factor, win a recording contract.
Up to 69 000 people had subscribed to the channel by Monday.
Cowell, a household name in his native Britain who has
appeared as the acerbic judge on several of his shows, recently
branched out from his focus on stage talent and began exploring
food with his new television show, Food Glorious Food.
Internet bypassing TV
The YouTube star search comes after Cowell has seen ratings
of some of his shows start to slide and acknowledged that more
people were consuming content on demand via YouTube, with this
trend being fuelled by internet-connected TVs.
He told TV industry publication Broadcast late last year
that online feedback was already playing a crucial role in
shaping his shows and he was convinced that social media would
become more important in the future evolution of Syco.
He is joining a growing band of companies heading straight
to the internet to entertain people as video streaming
technology makes watching videos on laptops and mobile devices
as easy as flicking on a TV set.
Amazon.com, Google's YouTube,
Yahoo and Microsoft are setting up shop
in Hollywood to produce or license their own series.
Video service Netflix spent $100 million making House of Cards starring Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey with all 13
episodes made available at the same time so people could shape
their own viewing schedule.
The companies have different business models - Amazon,
Netflix and Microsoft have subscription services, YouTube sells
advertising, while Intel and Apple may introduce cable-like services that offer channels online.
But they all sense an opening as consumers increasingly
chafe at their mounting cable and satellite TV bills. A small,
but increasing, number are starting to "cut the cord", or drop
their service, say analysts.
You Generation territories were listed as Australia, Hong
Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand,
Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Belgium, Ireland,
Netherlands, Britain, Czech Republic, France, Israel, Poland,
Russia, Spain, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Argentina and
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