ABC, ESPN video hitting YouTube

Move indicates site's desire to become more commercial

Disney will put ABC and ESPN video on YouTube under a deal announced Monday that indicates Google's desire to make its popular online video site more commercial.

Financial details of the arrangment were not disclosed, except that Disney Media Networks will be able to sell advertising -- including video pre-rolls -- attached to its content, not unheard of at YouTube but certainly rare.

Google and Disney will split ad revenue generated from the partnership.

Disney will create YouTube "channels" launching next month and the following month for ESPN, ABC Entertainment, ABC News, ABC Family and SOAPnet. It also has the option to create channels for specific TV shows.

Content will be short-form only, each piece running five minutes long or less, and will include behind-the-scenes action from ABC shows, interviews with celebrities, sneak-peaks of upcoming episodes and recaps of episodes already aired. A sample show at Youtube now from ESPN is a four-minute segment about fantasy baseball.

YouTube, which attracts about 100 million unique users monthly, has been struggling to translate a big audience into meaningful revenue, let alone profits. But its willingness to let Disney sell video ads attached to its content could portend a trend.

The deal also signifies that Disney isn't married to the for-pay model it is usually associated with when its premium content goes online.

Disney might in fact be trying to close a deal for putting ad-supported ABC shows on Hulu, the Internet site owned by Fox and NBC Universal.

"We're always interested in scaling our distribution," a Disney insider said.
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