Full-length MGM films to air on YouTube

YouTube, the world's largest video site, has partnered with MGM to begin showing full-length films from the studio's archive. Recently the video giant has been trying to play catch up to video site Hulu. The partnership hopes to boost revenue to both Youtube and MGM along with giving more direct competition to Hulu, the NBC owned site that features free full-length shows from Fox, NBC, and CBS, along with various full-length movies. Jim Packer, co-president of MGM Worldwide Television, is optimistic, saying, "They have a lot of people walking through their front door everyday. And if they are smart in how they grow this, YouTube should have a successful business also."

The video presentation from MGM will come in the format of 'channels'. One such channel, Impact, will post action filmssuch as "Bulletproof Monk" and "The Magnificent Seven", while another will post episodes from it's famous "American Gladiators" program. The initial plan is for approximately five to ten channels with various content, one is being specifically catered towards female viewers.

While this partnership is a step forward for both digital distribution and YouTube, don't expect the video line-up to make you drool any time soon. "It's safe to say you won't see those blockbuster theatricals shortly after their release or after their TV window," admitted Mr Packer. MGM plans to start slowly, with no more than 30 to 40 movies up at a time. His sentiment is shared by other studios, who are drawn more to the professional presentation of Hulu. 

Up to this point, the relationship between Hollywood and YouTube has been nothing short of icy. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which told media companies YouTube was not legally required to remove unauthorized material from the site unless asked specifically to do so by the owner, has provoked animosity from the studios, who believe YouTube should have taken greater measures to remove pirated clips. “A lot of studios have taken the position that they won’t embrace YouTube until everything is perfect and the copyright protection is ironclad,” Mr. Marvis of Lionsgate said.

Now, YouTube hopes to entice these studios back with new features such as VideoID, which spots pirated clips and allows the studios to directly decide whether to take the video down or keep it up and generate advertising revenue from it. The current deal will give the studios 70 percent of the profits from advertising, with the other 30 percent going to YouTube's owner Google. The final obstacle for deals with other studies lies in Google's insistence at particular ad-formatting, along with doubts that the ads will generate enough revenue to make the films profitable.

If all goes well, the MGM channels should be running within the next 18 months.

Tags:  YouTube, MS, MGM, Film, films, GM, LM, air, GT, AI