YouTube is moving beyond cat videos and short clips to something like traditional TV, spending $100 million to produce original programs.
Along with efforts by Amy Poehler, Shaquille O’Neal, Madonna and Ashton Kutcher, Google's YouTube will go big on health with the July premiere of TheChopraWell — backed by Lady Gaga's favorite guru, Deepak Chopra. (A preliminary version has already launched.)
Relatively speaking, Chopra is out there. A classically trained physician, he's taught medicine at Harvard. But it was after studying transcendental meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi that he leapt onto the scene with the publication of his book "Creating Health: How to Wake Up the Body's Intelligence" (Mariner Books, 1995), which details the healing power of the mind. [ Americans Increasingly Rely on Technology for Health ]
In total, he's written 65 books, including 19 that landed on the New York Times bestseller list. He counts as fans not only Gaga but also star-maker Oprah Winfrey.
Still, can a channel devoted to "personal, global, social and spiritual transformation" make it with the masses?
Chopra won't be alone in the effort. His daughter Mallika and son Gotham will be running the channel with him. Each member of the Chopra clan will produce a segment that viewers can subscribe to in a daily email or a weekly digest. They described the programs to TechNewsDaily, albeit a bit vaguely.
Deepak and Gotham will each produce news-segment style pieces that delve deeper into matters of spirituality. Deepak will speak with "leaders and teachers" on troubling questions about strife, human rights and spirituality. Gotham will produce a regular show called "Holy Facts," which will explore spiritual traditions around the globe.
Deepak is already producing video content for his website. Gotham, a former journalist, has spent the past year working on a documentary about his dad, out this summer, called "Decoding Deepak."
Mallika will host a show tentatively titled "30 Days of Intent,” a reality-style program offering participants a spiritual makeover.
"Our hope is to make this really interactive. Viewers will be able to upload their own video responses," Mallika said in a phone interview, adding how her own website, intent.com, has changed over three years in response to viewer participation. "If people are loving a certain aspect of what we’re doing, we can follow that,” she said.
There's no denying TheChopraWell serves the family mission. Deepak has been pursuing the ambitious goal of getting 100 million people around the world to, as he describes it, "make a personal commitment to be healthy, to live peacefully and to care about the environment." It’s a process he calls "critical mass transformation." In other words, Deepak believes massive change begins at the individual level.
According to Mallika, "The driving force isn’t this business objective." Rather, the new venture's criteria will be "Is this something that can help?"
"Every great brand is a story," Deepak said at a recent conference on Twitter and online communities in New York City. "And every great story is a love story."