Jeffrey Katzenberg talks up YouTube Nation

Jacob Soboroff is host of YouTube Nation, which will highlight the most interesting videos on YouTube each day.
(YouTube Nation)

A year ago, DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg trekked to the Bay Area headquarters of YouTube to pitch an idea to his counterpart, Salar Kamangar.

“I said to them, I love the things they are doing with YouTube in terms of building out the platform and encouraging user generated content,” Katzenberg said. “But as a user, I felt the one thing that was very challenging is ... there’s hundreds of hours of programming being uploaded every minute. It’s inconsumable and unnavigable and, as a user, it was getting harder and harder for me to know what I should be watching.”

The solution, Katzenberg suggested, was to create a show that could serve up daily highlights of the best programming on YouTube.

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“I proposed to them the idea that we create for them what would be a daily lighthouse that would be for users like myself,” Katzenberg said.

The concept evolved into YouTube Nation, a new daily show produced by DreamWorks Animation that will feature some of the best and most interesting videos on the video sharing website, which attracts more than 1 billion visitors each month.

Hosted by Jacob Soboroff (formerly of HuffPost Live) and executive produced by Steve Woolf and Zadi Diaz, the program debuts Tuesday at 6 p.m. on the YouTube Spotlight page and at

A partnership between YouTube and DreamWorks, the series marks the first program of its kind between YouTube and a major studio. YouTube is financing the show, while DreamWorks is producing the series and will share in advertising revenue.

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“It’s a great way to introduce people to YouTube,” said Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s head of content and business operations. “It helps them make sense of great content on YouTube and gets them into a daily habit of consuming it in a way that’s really digestible ... it’s a fantastic idea.”

A team of experienced curators at YouTube Nation will handpick the top content each day in a five-minute show that includes videos, playlists, highlights and fan feedback.
The episodes will include a vast array of content, such as the YouTube original series “Video Game High School” from filmmaker and musician Freddie Wong, amateur home videos and blogs on the latest in sports, fashion and music. The idea is to capture quirky and interesting content before it becomes the next hot trend.

In all, about 50 people are working on the production, which is based out of a studio in Playa Vista.


While there are other shows that feature popular YouTube content, YouTube Nation won’t have a specific comedic bent, not will it be driven by one personality.

“It’s the difference between the Colbert Report and Headline News,” Katzenberg said.

He said the service will not be used to market or promote DreamWorks Animation characters or those from its newly acquired Classic Media Library. The Glendale studio has agreed to produce 300 hours of animated programming for global streaming service Netflix.

Nor will there be any tie-in with Awesomeness TV, the YouTube teen network channel DreamWorks acquired last year for $33 million in cash.


“This is not DreamWorks branded in any fashion, shape or form,” Katzenberg said.

Rather, he described the venture as a “business opportunity” to capitalize on the Internet as a growing content platform.

The venture also is the latest in a series of moves by DreamWorks Animation to transform itself from a pure-play feature animation studio to a broad-based digital media entertainment company. DreamWorks recently partnered with El Segundo company Fuhu create DreamTab, a computer tablet designed for kids.

“We think it is one of the places of greatest opportunity for any content creator over the next couple of years,” Katzenberg said of YouTube. “YouTube Nation will be a very good and a very valuable business for us.”



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Twitter: @rverrier