Earlier this year, rumors came out that YouTube was gearing up for a redesign, which would highlight sets of channels around various topics to provide a more TV-like experience. The sources of these rumors were "people familiar with the matter," as reported by the Wall Street Journal, who said at the time, that YouTube was looking to introduce 20 or so "premium channels" that would feature 5 to 10 hours of professionally-produced programming a week.
It appears that such a scenario may be getting closer to reality, though now the number is a little lower, as the Journal is saying (once again, according to "people familiar with the matter") that YouTube is finalizing contracts for its first over over a dozen channels.
Along with new 3D conversion and editing tools, YouTube announced last week that it was removing the video time limit for verified accounts. Before, the limit was 15 minutes, but now, if you meet the company's criteria, you can provide longer content (complete with a new resumable uploads feature). More longer-form content, sounds like a good way to get more out of such a channel selection offering.
Google has also been said to be a suitor for a possible Hulu sale, though recent reports indicate that the sale itself is in jeopardy.
YouTube also greatly expanded its movie offerings this year, adding new release rental into the mix. That along with various live streams of events, including popular concerts, and these new channels really drive home the point that Google is serious about making YouTube a serious media force, and not just a big (really, really big) collection of cat videos and other user-generated content. They want YouTube to compete with your cable and satellite providers.
They certainly have a lot broader selection of content already.
When YouTube celebrated its sixth birthday earlier this year, it said that it exceeded over 48 hours worth of video uploaded per minute (a 100% year-over-year increase). They also said they were getting 3 billion daily views to go along with that.