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April 17, 2009

YouTube Emphasizes Long-Form Video

YouTube added a new tab titled "Shows" that highlights TV shows. "Today we're excited to announce a new destination for television shows and an improved destination for movies on YouTube, where partners like Crackle, CBS, MGM, Lionsgate, Starz and many others have made thousands of television episodes and hundreds of movies available for you to watch, comment on, favorite and share," announces the YouTube blog.

The list of TV shows, which are mostly available in the US, includes: "Harper's Island", "The Addams Family", "Happy Tree Friends", "Married with Children", "Star Trek: The Original Series", "Mythbusters", "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", "The Tudors" and others. The list of movies is less impressive and it only includes some Bollywood movies, documentaries, MTV movies and a very small number of interesting movies (the classics "Heidi", "The Little Princess", "Animal Farm", "Fitzcarraldo").



YouTube's move towards long-form professional videos is another attempt to monetize the service, which costs more than 1 million dollars a day, according to some estimates. YouTube will use third-party players from services like Crackle and will even allow content providers to bring their own ads. "YouTube has agreed to display the films using a video player from Crackle, Sony Pictures' own video site. The studio will control all the advertising for the films and Crackle will also get credit for the traffic," according to CNet.

Sarah Lacy has a plausible explanation for these changes. "Smart entrepreneurs realize user generated content still matters, it just doesn't directly translate to revenues. UGC is the core of why so many people are on these sites and without the eyeballs, the tech platforms don't have as much negotiating leverage with Hollywood. Without Hollywood, it seems, they may not get revenues anytime soon."

I'm not convinced that YouTube will be able to repeat Hulu's success, but hopefully the latest efforts won't alienate YouTube's community and YouTube will continue to find the right balance between professional and amateur content. After all, YouTube's goal was to "empower people to become the broadcasters of tomorrow".

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