Google-owned YouTube, bowing to the success of rival online video site Hulu, is shifting beyond short-form clips with a new area devoted to TV shows and older movies.
Unlike Hulu, which has access to most of the current prime-time lineup from NBC and Fox (including 30 Rock and The Simpsons), YouTube has only one major network prime-time TV show, CBS' Harper's Island.
The rest of the 1,000-plus shows are golden nuggets such as Beverly Hillbillies, Charlie's Angels, Bewitched and The Addams Family.
YouTube is the Web's dominant video site, but advertisers have been reluctant to spend big bucks there because so much of the fare is homemade video clips and instructional videos.
Madison Avenue prefers sites like Hulu, which have "premium" fare and a more targeted audience, says Phil Leigh, an analyst at Inside Digital Media.
"This is a significant step forward for YouTube, but also a consolation prize," he says. "The studios are more comfortable elsewhere and won't give YouTube their best content."
Still, he notes that YouTube's audience of nearly 90 million users is "equal to all the cable TV and satellite" subscribers in the United States and more than 10 times the size of Hulu's audience.
"If only one-tenth of the users care about Bewitched or The Addams Family and watch, advertisers will be very happy," he says.
In March, according to market tracker Nielsen Online, Hulu had 8.8 million users in the U.S., and showed 348 million videos, compared with 89.4 million visitors and 5.7 billion videos shown at YouTube.
Before Thursday, YouTube's vast offerings consisted of mostly short clips except for three older TV shows, the original Star Trek,MacGyver and Beverly Hills, 90210.
Beyond the new shows, YouTube also is introducing traditional advertising methods for sponsors, via what it calls Google TV. Standard ads will appear at the beginning and middle of the show.
What's different is that the ads work on the same auction model Google uses for search ads: Marketers bid on advertising in specific shows and pay a rate based on market interest.