YouTube to run full-length TV shows

'90210,' 'Star Trek' among offerings

YouTube has announced a major shift in strategy, as the online video giant will begin streaming long-form professionally produced content, starting with a host of show from CBS' library such as Star Trek and Beverly Hills 90210.

And unlike the majority of YouTube clips, this content will carry pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll video ad spots.

Executives at the Google-owned property said the decision to break from the site's traditional emphasis on short video clips was based on demand from its own user base and the fact that long form Web viewing has proven popular on other sites such as ABC.com. YouTube has been quietly exceeding it's previous nine-minutes-or-less limit for video length by offering several documentaries and excerpts from political debates, and it's users have responded positively, said officials.

"This is about giving the community what they want, said Jordan Hoffner, YouTube's director of content partnerships, YouTube "Plus, we're not blind to the growth of long form on other sites."

But with the move, YouTube is clearing moving to where the money is in online video. It's been well documented that Google has had trouble cashing in on the millions of user-generated clips the site streamed, while advertisers have gravitated to running spots within primetime series via the CBS Audience Network, Hulu, and other sites.

Hoffner wouldn't comment on whether YouTube's shift in strategy is based on the perceived financial success of the Hulus of the world. "I've never seen Hulu's books," he said. "This is just the right strategy for us. There is money in a lot of places. We're making good on our pledge to give advertisers choice." Hoffner added that YouTube will announce several additional content partners in the coming weeks.

Though CBS is not providing YouTube with current hits like CSI and Survivor, the Showtime series Dexter and Californication are included in the deal, as are classics like MacGyver as well as the daytime soap The Young and the Restless.

And while YouTube has rolled out a new wide screen video player geared for long form content on, these shows will be accessible via CBS' existing channel on the site and the site plans to make all long form content accessible throughout the site, said Shiva Rajaraman, YouTube product manager. "It's important to merge this experience into the natural points of discovery on the site," he said.

Rajaraman added that while the CBS content will carry pre-roll ads – something that YouTube has shied from in the past, the ad model for short form content will not change. "We're very committed to overlay units," he said.
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