YouTube Pacts with Big Media, Launches Premium TV and Movies

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Google’s popular online video service YouTube has unveiled new premium sections devoted to full-length television shows and movies in an effort to generate advertising revenues off the millions and millions of eyeballs that connect to the site every day. YouTube’s partners in the deal including content providers like Crackle, CBS, MGM, Lionsgate, Starz, and—in a big move—Sony, which will offer both films and television shows for YouTube users. Right now, YouTube sports about 700 movies and thousands of television episodes…and the new content is accompanied by in-stream advertising, which YouTube has been testing since October.

Movies and television shows are currently limited to U.S. YouTube users, but the company says its new “Subscriptions” tab will be available worldwide in the coming weeks; it enabled signed-in users to get quick access to new content from their favorite content creators—including major studios, of course.

YouTube says it’s in active negotiations with other premium content providers to being more video content to YouTube; the pact with Sony follows recent announcements that Walt Disney would be offering short-form excerpts of programming from ABC and ESPN. YouTube also announced a partnership with Universal Music Group on a premium music video service dubbed Vevo.

YouTube’s movie to offer television shows and movies may also mark a warming of relations between the video sharing site and major studios, which have historically been prickly with the service over what they’ve viewed as massive copyright infringement from YouTube users—in fact, Viacom still has a $1 billion copyright infringement suit pending against YouTube, even as Viacom unit CBS makes television content (like episodes of the original Star Trek) available on the service. Premium content also puts YouTube in more-direct competition with sites like Hulu, which offer full-length television shows and movies.

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