University of California Television Prime, a new YouTube channel focusing on the UC system, will launch next month, marking the first university-run channel to be partnered exclusively with the site.
The channel will not be funded by the university, but by a grant from YouTube. UCTV developers pitched YouTube an idea to create content about the university last summer.
YouTube then granted $300,000 to the program to create miniseries and short documentaries highlighting the UC’s resources and lifestyle, said Alison Gang, UCTV communications director.
This is part of a push for more educational content by YouTube, which includes about 100 similar partnerships with other organizations, said Annie Baxter, YouTube communications manager.
UCTV currently operates a national satellite channel through DISH Network, including a 24-hour channel in Los Angeles that reaches 22 million homes nationwide, Gang said.
But the program is soon terminating its relationship with DISH Network to focus primarily on Internet services such as Roku and YouTube, Gang said.
The television channel will transition from satellite to digital streaming in order to save money and pay staff, Gang said.
UCTV used to receive about $1 million annually from the UC before funding was cut, Gang said. While the UC is legally affiliated with the program, it will no longer provide funding for UCTV starting next year.
The shift was due to budget cuts and the UC must focus its resources on core academia, said Todd Greenspan, director of academic planning for the UC.
“The grant (from YouTube) came at an opportune time,” Gang said.
The UC and UCTV are also working together to create a new funding model to keep the program running, Greenspan said.
UCTV may also eventually receive profits from advertisements on its YouTube channel, which would be split with the site, Baxter said.
Profits would be cycled back into the program, Gang said.
The channel’s content, which was originally aimed at reaching out to people outside the UC and informing them about happenings at the university, will now focus more on individual UC campuses, Gang said.
UC students will be allowed to pitch and create their own video stories through the new YouTube channel.
Students with ideas can fill out an online application form, and part of the money from the YouTube grant will be allocated to projects that are approved by UCTV.
A task force arranged by the UC’s central office acts as an advisory body to UCTV, which reports back to the UC, Greenspan said. But the decision to stream content is solely the responsibility of UCTV, he said.
The program staffs about five people and occasionally works with a television station hosted by UC San Diego.
UC Student Regent Alfredo Mireles said he supports the initiative, but also said he would like to see student representation on the UCTV task force.
“As long as we are extremely mindful of any costs coming out of student dues, I think UCTV is a great way to prove the important things the UC does,” said Mireles.
The UCTV Prime channel will debut on March 1 with a miniseries titled “Naked Art,” a closer look at public art on the UC campuses.