Google took the wraps off a partnership with Hollywood studios bringing movies and TV shows to U.S. consumers via its YouTube video network. Some of the big-named partners inking a deal with YouTube are Sony, CBS, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, BBC and independent film studio Lions Gate Entertainment. Each agreed to showcase some of their catalog content on the Google-owned video site.
Separated from the plethora of user-generated videos, the shows and movies are situated in a dedicated Shows section on YouTube, available from the main page. The content offered will be free to view but it is supported by ads -- the revenue being shared with content owners.
YouTube's move to premium content comes to counter the ever-growing popularity of sites like Hulu, which freely offer movies and TV shows for viewing. However, most of the studio movies and shows added on YouTube are more than a decade old (Fantasy Island, Alf, Party of Five), while NBC-owned Hulu offers most of the new shows just a few days after they air on TV.
Google is hoping that these full-length movies and video will help YouTube salvage through advertising revenue some of the over $500 million some predict it loses yearly on bandwidth costs. In order, Google TV Ads, also introduced yesterday, will place commercials into the ad breaks of TV programs watched online (the ads cannot be skipped).
According to measurement firm Nielsen, YouTube accounts for two-thirds of all video views in the U.S., and last month the site had over 90 million visitors according to comScore.
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