Peter Kafka

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YouTube Preps Its (Sort of) Hulu Answer: Movies, TV Shows From Sony, Others

bill-murray-stripesHere’s Google’s sort-of answer to Hulu: A newly designed page to showcase TV shows and movies, along with new players and a new ad strategy.

What’s not included: almost any first-run TV show or newly released movie. That’s the content that’s made Hulu successful and what’s also driven traffic to offerings from CBS and Disney’s ABC.

You can’t accuse the Google guys of overselling this: In a press conference today, they described it as a “first step, a baby step.”

Google (GOOG) did say that it had added new content partners, but it was maddeningly imprecise about which ones it had signed up and what content they were providing. The company did confirm, however, that Sony (SNE), via its Crackle video site, would be providing content.

Google also said that it now has “thousands” of television shows and “hundreds” of movies; prior to this, the company said its catalog consisted of just “hundreds” of TV shows and “dozens” of movies.

But this is still primarily “long tail” stuff. The only first-run CBS (CBS) show YouTube offers, for instance, is “Harper’s Island,” which YouTube already offered. And if you recognize any of the following new YouTube partners, then it means you’re a show business insider: Endemol, Anime Network, Scott Entertainment, Entertainment Rights, Shout Factory, Telenext Media, Documentary Channel, First Look Studios, IndieFlix, Saavn, Snag Films, Venevision and Bandai.

Still, YouTube needs as much licensed content it can get its hands on in order to lure more advertisers to the site, which has underperformed to date.

Advertisers who do want to sign up will have a new option: a “Google TV ads” product that inserts ads into the shows, à la Google’s Adsense for Web publishers. Google said it will use “pre-roll,” “mid-roll” and “post-roll” ads–i.e., video ads that run before, during and after the movie or TV show–as well as the overlay ads that cover the bottom part of the screen, briefly, with a translucent pitch.

Google will also allow video providers to sell their own content, and in some cases, will allow them to use their own video player, a first for the company. Sony, for instance, will use its Crackle video player for its content.

Reports that YouTube had a deal with Sony to show full-length movies and TV shows on the site surfaced earlier this month. Last month, reports also indicated that YouTube was talking to Disney (DIS) about getting movies and ABC TV shows on the site, but since then I’ve been told that Hulu, the joint venture between News Corp.’s (NWS) Fox and GE’s (GE) NBC, has all but locked up ABC shows for an exclusive deal.

Here are two releases, one describing the new section and the other describing the new ad product. Screenshots follow.

Watch Shows and Movies on YouTube: Today we’re excited to announce a new destination for television shows and an improved landing page for movies on YouTube, where partners like Crackle, CBS, MGM, Lionsgate, Starz, the BBC and many others have made thousands of television episodes and hundreds of movies available for you to watch, comment on, favorite and share. This addition is one of many efforts underway to ensure that we’re offering you all the different kinds of video you want to see, from bedroom vlogs and citizen journalism reports to music videos and full-length films and TV shows.

To help you navigate through all this great content, we’re introducing two new tabs to the YouTube masthead: the “Shows” tab allows you to browse shows by genre, network, title and popularity, while the “Subscriptions” tab will grant logged-in users one-click access to fresh content from their favorite creators.


Another change you’ll notice today is the wider roll-out of in-stream ads, which we’ve been testing since October, to support our shows and movies content — not unlike what you might see when viewing this type of content on TV.

While shows and movies are currently limited to users in the US, we look forward to expanding to other regions as soon as possible.

We hope you enjoy watching shows and movies on YouTube. There’s still work to be done and we look forward to iterating with you, whether that’s rolling out new engagement features, expanding our content offering or improving your viewing experience. And, as with everything we do, we’ll track your usage and feedback to preserve your fundamental YouTube experience while we take these steps to enhance it.

Yours,
Sara Pollack
Entertainment Marketing Manager
The YouTube Team

Reach TV viewers through more than one screen
By Geoff Smith, Product Manager for Google TV Ads

Google TV Ads makes it easy for advertisers of all sizes to reach customers watching television. These days, many full-length television programs are also available for Internet users to watch online. These programs may appear in various places, including the websites of the networks which originally broadcast them and on other sites that specialize in video content. What if an advertiser wants to reach the audience of a particular program, no matter whether they’re watching on a television or online?

We’re excited to announce the beta launch of Google TV Ads Online. This is a new feature of Google TV Ads that lets advertisers place commercials into the ad breaks of TV programs watched online. It works in the same way as Google TV Ads: advertisers can target specific programs and select their cost-per-thousand (CPM) bid. Based on their targets, budget and bid, ads are inserted in the same program breaks that were designed for advertising when the programs first aired. (Ads may also be shown “pre-roll”, before the program begins, or after the online presentation of the program “post-roll.”) And like Google TV ads, we provide advertisers with measurement tools that give greater insight into how their ads perform with users.


One website where viewers are consuming more and more full-length content online is YouTube. Today, YouTube launched a new destination for full-length shows and movies, and advertisers will be able to use Google TV Ads Online to reach the millions of people who come to YouTube to watch this content. That’s not only good for advertisers, but content partners who are looking to generate revenue from their videos online. Ads will also be shown on other websites that carry full-length video programs.

Google TV Ads Online is still in beta and available to advertisers by invitation only. If you’re interested in learning more about it or would like to be considered for the program, please contact Erin Bouchier at erinb@google.com.

Here’s what the new YouTube video player looks like in full-screen mode (click to enlarge):

google-alf

And here’s a “landing page” for YouTube TV shows:

google-tv-landing-page


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus