youtubeWhile we’re on the topic of funding original web content this Friday, it’s fitting that YouTube today announced a new $5 million grant program for its content partners.

At VidCon today in Los Angeles (Tubefilter is a media partner of VidCon 2010), YouTube’s partner development manager George Strompolos announced the new Partner Grant Program to an exuberant crowd full of YouTube creators/partners.

The goal, Strompolos said to the Partners in the room, is to figure out “what’s holding you back, and help you out with that $5 million.” “The goal of YouTube Partner Grants is to act as a catalyst by infusing additional funds into the production budgets of a small group of YouTube partners who are at the forefront of innovation,” he added.

More details of the program were released on the YouTube blog today, and one thing that pops out is that technically the funds act less like pure grants and more as advances on partner ad revenues. “Funds from YouTube Partner Grants will serve as an advance against the partner’s future YouTube revenue share.”

The basic idea is still the same. A creator who has demonstrated an ability to make engaging videos (read: lots of comments and views), can get an upfront payment from YouTube to fund their next video. So take the The Fine Brothers, for example, who are on a tear lately with their pop-topical videos like the “Lindsay Lohan In Court” interactive game, could get funds to shoot something that requires some hard costs to be paid upfront. Like, say, a crane shot of Lindsay’s car leaving court?

Ultimately this signals a much-expected shift in YouTube moving towards acting like the network that is has become. In effect, it’s a very new form of traditional networks like NBC and MTV, complete with a loyal audience and set of active content creators who make revenues based on viewership of their works on the network. Backing YouTube partners directly keeps them both a) on YouTube and b) afloat as semi-professional creatives.

But as the details on the program’s submission guidelines outline, it’s clear that creators will need to have more than just a catchy idea to score funding. Marketing and distribution plans are a kay part of the approvals. And at the onset, not all YouTube partners are eligible to submit applications, just “selected partners” at this time—probably to save Strompolos and his team from an onslaught of thousands of submissions. More details from YouTube:

  • YouTube is identifying eligible partners based on factors such as video views, subscribers, growth rate, audience engagement and production expertise
  • Selected partners are contacted by YouTube and invited to submit a Grant proposal
  • Proposals are evaluated by YouTube based on signals which include projected performance, distribution plan, marketing plan, cost requirements and appeal to advertisers
  • If approved, funds are transferred to the partner so they can get started on their project

[Ed. Note: If you’re a participating YouTube partner receiving one of these grants let us know. We’d like to profile your grant-backed videos in a follow-up article. Email us at tips[at] ]

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