YouTube Strikes Premium Video Pact with Time Warner

YouTube has won the right to host short-form TV and movie clips from Time Warner. The agreement covers Warner Bros. movies and series like “Gossip Girl” and “The Ellen Degeneres Show,” along with TV fare from Turner-owned CNN, Cartoon Network, and its Adult Swim programming.

Under the deal’s terms, Time Warner’s video player will be integrated into the site. Turner and Warner Bros. are permitted to set up YouTube channels for their individual brands, and to sell their own ads.

In those aspects, the relationship is similar to YouTube’s March deal with Disney/ABC Television Group. As with the Disney/ABC deal, YouTube’s access to Time Warner’s full-length TV content is limited to short clips, teasers, and recaps. There may be more promise in the clips from CNN, Cartoon Network, and Adult Swim, since those networks specialize in short-form programming anyway.

A YouTube spokesperson said that to fixate on the absence of long-form content, as some advertisers have, is to miss the point.

“The focus in the media right now is largely on long-form content,” said the rep, Chris Dale. “What we’ve steadily been doing over the last year and a half is finding these deals with premium partners…that is bringing more monetizable content to YouTube.”

As time wears on, YouTube has proven ever more agreeable to the terms laid by network owners, though it means surrendering control over the player and advertising experience. The Google-owned site has decided those sacrifices are acceptable if they allow it to further its urgent quest to win the syndication rights to top-shelf programming.

Until last spring, the only premium content it could boast was older series such as “Beverly Hills 90210,” “MacGyver, and “Star Trek The Original Series.” Those older shows came through deals with CBS, Lions Gate, MGM, and Sony.

Today’s announcement expands on an existing relationship between Time Warner and YouTube. Time Warner’s HBO premium cable network currently uses the site to promote video clips from “True Blood,” “Hung,” and “Entourage.” CNN International has also made clips available on a country-restricted basis.

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