BBC branches out with YouTube

Branded channels, news clips, links in 'additive' deal

The BBC has inked a major deal with Google to launch three branded channels on YouTube that will feature clips from the pubcaster's entertainment shows as well as advertising-funded news from the BBC's global outlets.

The nonexclusive partnership opens the way for the BBC to extend its content across other broadband portals and is the pubcaster's biggest commitment to any portal outside its own. It will not cover any longform programming but will allow users to link through to the BBC's own Web portal if they want to download BBC content.

"I see this as massively additive to what we already have," said David Moody, managing director of digital media at BBC Worldwide, the company's commercial division. "This is a truly global deal that takes BBC Worldwide across borders in a way like never before."

Under the agreement, signed by BBC director general Mark Thompson, YouTube CEO Chad Hurley and Google chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt, fans of such BBC shows as "Life on Mars," "Doctor Who" and "Torchwood" will be able to watch clips and specially commissioned content relating to BBC shows on two branded channels on YouTube, with search service provided by Google.

Under a separate agreement with BBC Worldwide, archival clips of such shows as "Top Gear," "Spooks" and "The Mighty Boosh" also will be available on an advertising-funded basis, alongside an advertising-supported news clips service.

Users will be able to comment on clips, rate them, recommend them to friends and post their own video responses to communicate with viewers and the BBC. YouTube will act as a shop window that will allow users to link to the BBC's own interactive media player for on-demand content.

The move is part of a number of BBC initiatives aimed at allowing content to be accessed by the maximum number of users across all digital platforms.

Garth Ancier, new president of BBC Worldwide America, noted that the YouTube deal will raise the profile of BBC content in the U.S. "It allows the American public a much broader taste of what the BBC and BBC Worldwide has that hasn't surfaced here particularly well yet," he said.

Added Schmidt: "We're delighted to be joining forces with the BBC to bring the best TV programming available to the YouTube community."

Andrew Wallenstein in Los Angeles contributed to this report.