It was only a matter of time before YouTube (owned by Google) made a definitive move to branch outside of its current role as merely a video hosting site. According to a New York Times article, last week (Monday, 03/07/2011), YouTube acquired Next New Networks, which is a video production company. It appears that YouTube hopes to break into the markets where sites like Hulu, which (legally) provides episodes of many television shows and movies. The appeal to Hulu is that viewers can depend on the site for providing the television shows and movies listed on the site, whereas YouTube can not necessarily make these same guarantees due to copyright laws, among other issues.
If my memory serves me correctly, YouTube provides a movie rental service as well, though this has not, apparently, garnered enough of the market for the company to remain satisfied. The acquired company was reportedly acquired for less than $50 million, which seems like a steal for YouTube. Next New Networks has already established itself among its various projects, including Barely Political, Indy Mogul, Hungry Nation, and it's various works on iTunes and Vimeo.
One of the most visible changes viewers can expect from YouTube is the production value of the videos created and uploaded by YouTube's many partners, who are determined based on how many unique hits they receive on their videos and how many subscribers they accumulate. But the bottom line is that Google has got its eye on bigger and better things and is currently preparing it's visual media arm, YouTube, for war over the growing market segment currently dominated by Hulu and a few other sites. So long as this healthy competition breeds higher quality products and services, I don't see how we can complain!