A baby step toward top-shelf programming.
In a deal that will bring a bit more top-shelf entertainment that brand advertisers are looking for, YouTube will carry short-form content from Disney/ABC Television Group.
The agreement between Google and Disney/ABC will create numerous ad-supported channels with video content from ESPN and the Disney/ABC Television Group. Visitors will be able to watch teaser clips and recaps of ABC shows like "Grey's Anatomy," "Lost," and "Desperate Housewives," and similar short fare from ESPN.
The inventory will be monetized, in part, with in-stream ads sold by ABC. Google said Disney Media Networks will "test" pre-roll ads in its video content, and that YouTube's overlay and banner ad formats will also be available.
However there are many indications the site's in-stream ad plans are much more than a test.
In mid-April the site is expected to unveil a redesign that will play up its high-quality shows and movies. Under that revamp, first reported yesterday by ClickZ, the current homepage tabs "videos," "channels," and "community" will be replaced with tabs for "shows," "movies," "music," and "videos." The first three tabs will display premium shows, clips, and movies from Google's network and studio partners, all of which will be monetized with in-stream advertising. Meanwhile the "videos" channel will house amateur and semi-pro content of the sort major brand advertisers have shied away from.
Meanwhile Disney/ABC is rumored to be in talks to buy an equity stake in Hulu, the rapidly growing video entertainment portal jointly owned by News Corp. and NBC Universal. If that rumored deal takes place, ABC shows would likely become available in their entirety on Hulu -- leaving YouTube out in the cold for the foreseeable future.
Should that happen, however, Google may be better positioned to do a deal with CBS, which has so far refused to allow its full-length shows to be syndicated either to Hulu or YouTube.
Google already carries longer shows from CBS, Lions Gate, MGM, and Sony. But they're primarily archived series such as "Beverly Hills 90210," "MacGyver, and "Star Trek The Original Series."
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Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects.
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