Late last night, Google’s YouTube declared that it would be partnering with major studios to stream full-length movies and TV shows on its site for free.
YouTube’s partners on the initiative are Sony Pictures, CBS, MGM, Lionsgate, Starz and the BBC. Advertising revenue will be shared with the content providers.
YouTube has also announced a string of new partnerships with 13 smaller companies, including Discovery Communications Inc, National Geographic and SnagFilms LLC.
The company hopes to add to its movie and show content over time.
The titles available at launch are generally older fare encompassing hundreds of TV show titles and hundreds of movies.
Vastly expanding its library of full-length movies and TV shows, YouTube will also more broadly use video ads that play mid-stream in breaks on longer content.
The long-form videos will be housed on a unique page at www.youtube.com/shows and get a ‘Shows’ tab on the main YouTube site.
The offering, which went live late last night, marks the latest move in YouTube’s attempt to boost sales and profits.
Just last week, YouTube announced its partnership with Universal Music Group to create an online music video venture.
The movies and TV shows are currently limited to US users.
YouTube’s news came on the same day Google said it earned US$1.42bn, or US$4.49 per share, in the first quarter. This is up 9pc from a year ago.
YouTube also announced it will be launching Google TV Ads Online, helping advertisers target viewers of online content with video ads.
Purchased by Google in 2006 for US$1.65bn, YouTube has struggled to attract advertising, as marketers have been reluctant to associate with the amateur content often featured on the site.
By Carmel Doyle