Here's an interesting executive change: Google has apparently nabbed Netflix VP, Digital Content Acquisition Robert Kyncl to be its new VP, Content Partnerships. AllThingsD.com is reporting the move, though neither side has confirmed. The Google role has been open since David Eun moved over to AOL as President of Media last February.
Assuming the move is true, it would be a key step forward for Google - and more specifically YouTube - in gaining access to premium content. Kyncl would bring not just his relationships with Hollywood, but an insider's understanding of the economics behind all of Netflix's streaming deals with partners such as Epix, Warner Bros., Universal, ABC, Starz and others. That kind of credibility and insight would be a huge boon to YouTube, which has made some progress with premium content providers (e.g. Univision, WWE, etc), but has still had trouble breaking through. Google certainly has the stature to be a major distributor of premium content, but actually getting things done in Hollywood is notoriously tricky for outsiders.
The addition of Kyncl would also dovetail well with at least 3 other Google/YouTube initiatives: Google TV (which, if successful, would put Google in the center of the living room), the high-profile "Watch This Space" ad campaign which positions YouTube as an attractive environment for brand advertisers (see my post yesterday for more on this), and the launch of "Leanback," YouTube's 10-foot experience, which is optimized for 10-foot connected devices.
Add in all the progress Google is making with its Android OS in the mobile/tablet space and Kyncl is stepping in with a lot of company wind at his back. The big question becomes how wide Google is prepared to open its wallet to make content deals happen.
Update: YouTube confirmed late Fri that Robert Kyncl joined as Global Head of TV and Film Entertainment. It also said Dean Gilbert, who has been consulting to Google/YouTube for 4 years has come on as Global Head of Content. 2 big hires for the company. Google/YouTube is getting much more serious about premium content.
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