YouTube Finallly Looks to Full-Length TV Episodes

    October 10, 2008
    Chris Crum

YouTube has finally gotten to the point where they are going to start offering full-length episodes of TV shows, presumably to compete directly with Hulu and its ilk. They’re kicking this concept off with a deal with CBS, which will see CBS programs with lengths between 20 and 48 minutes available to watch on the video site known primarily for its user generated content.

Don’t get too excited if you’re a CSI fan though. You won’t be able to get your forensics fix with YouTube. Nor will you be able to get your Survivor one. You will have plenty of 90210 and Macguyver to feast your eyes on however. This should prove to be great competition for Hulu’s Miami Vice and A-Team offerings. In all seriousness though, they are getting some more current titles out of the CBS deal, such as Showtime’s Dexter and Californiacation (and others). Episodes will come with ads at the beginning, middle, and end.

CBSThe important part of this story is that YouTube is getting in on this part of the online video game – offering full-length shows. They are also said to be announcing more partnerships with content providers in the near future, so it appears they really do intend to take this seriously. This probably isn’t great news for Hulu, but luckily for them they’ve had some time to get their brand out there a good deal before YouTube got on the ball, so perhaps they will still be able to compete with the stellar brand that YouTube has behind it. Still, we don’t know what all content lies ahead for YouTube, so Hulu’s offerings might still provide some firepower as well, with titles like The Office and Prison Break on their side.

MediaWeek quotes YouTube Director of Content Partnerships, Jordan Hoffner. "This is about giving the community what they want…Plus, we’re not blind to the growth of long form on other sites." But (and I’m obviously not alone in this) I think that monetization might truly be the bigger factor for YouTube than simply giving the community what it wants. You may have noticed some other efforts from the site recently with that objective. They’ve started including commercials in some videos and have even launched an eCommerce platform.

We’re finally seeing the answer to the question everybody’s been asking since Google bought YouTube in 2006: how are they going to monetize it? They’re experimenting in some areas, and now looking toward proven methods with content partnerships and ads.