Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Disney’s YouTube Deal Kicks In, So Free Kids’ TV Starts Showing Up

YouTube is gunning for the TV business by trying to create a new genre of Web video programs that will capture TV eyeballs and ad dollars.

But Google’s Web video giant is also very happy to run good old-fashioned TV shows, if it can get its hands on them.

Here’s a reminder: Nearly 70 videos from Disney’s Disney Channel, many of them full-length episodes, are all free.

The videos have gone up in the last few days, but neither Google or Disney has said much about them. They’re there because of a programming deal the two companies cut last fall.

Coverage of that pact focused on the fact that Disney was going to create original short videos for YouTube, and would also allow YouTube to post a selection of user-generated stuff that incorporated Disney characters, etc.

But the deal also allows YouTube to run full-length shows. They’re even fully embeddable, as you can see below, if you’ve got 22 minutes to catch up on Zack and Cody’s suite life.

I’m not an expert on this flavor of kids’ programming, but I gather these are relatively old clips. But I do know that kids don’t really care about the vintage of their Web videos — they’re generally happy to watch whatever they watch, over and over again.

That’s why kids’ videos are so important to Netflix, and why they’re potentially very important for Google. That long-running, never-ending copyright lawsuit means that YouTube can’t get its hands on all the kids’ stuff that Viacom controls, but the Mouse House has plenty of its own. The fact that Disney distributes its stuff quite widely on the Web doesn’t diminish its value to YouTube boss Salar Kamangar.

This isn’t the first time YouTube has distributed full TV episodes, or even full movies, owned by Big Media, for free. (See more here and here). But it is a good reminder that it is very happy to show more of them, as soon Hollywood is ready to play along.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald