Google dips second toe into content

Eric Schmidt and other Google executives keep saying (usually in speeches to content-creation or distribution companies) that the company has no interest in getting into the content business, but the Web giant continues to do exactly that. Seth McFarlane’s new comedy venture is one example, and The Hollywood Reporter has come up with another: a YouTube show called Poptub, which appears to be a kind of Entertainment Tonight for the Web. As pointed out by NewTeeVee (which has apparently been trying to nail down Google’s involvement for some time), the show is in many ways just a reincarnation of an earlier experiment by Yahoo called The 9.

Poptub features the same host, the often overly enthusiastic and perky Maria Sansone, and a similar format in which YouTube clips are highlighted and Web celebrities are interviewed. The show also covers the typical entertainment fare, including awards shows and other red-carpet outings. Much like McFarlane’s project, Poptub is being distributed through the Google Content Network, which allows publishers to embed episodes of the show (or highlights) in their pages via Google ad widgets. The launch of Poptub, which apparently occurred last month, was reportedly kept under wraps so that the channel could build some buzz.

Poptub was created by Embassy Row, the production company run by reality TV guru Michael Davies, the guy behind Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and other shows, and is sponsored by Pepsi. Whether the idea of a YouTube clip show is going to fly or not remains to be seen, however. After the cancellation of The 9, Yahoo’s head of programming told NewTeeVee that he didn’t think video-clip shows really worked that well (“It’s a lot easier just to email somebody a link to a given video”), and as Liz Gannes at NTV has pointed out, there’s plenty of evidence to make that case.

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