YouTube adds select TV shows from CBS; takes aim at Hulu for long-form video content

We wouldn’t call YouTube a sleeping giant necessarily, but when it comes to long-form video the world’s dominant video-sharing site certainly seems to be cat-napping.

Other sites such as Hulu, the joint venture between Fox and NBC, have been getting much of the long-form video attention and name recognition, whereas YouTube remains known for short-form content that lasts 10 minutes or less.

Google, YouTube’s parent, is seeking to change this as it has added select full-length content from CBS in an attempt to take on Hulu and attract other network content to YouTube. [YouTube blog]

Available full-length shows include 20- to 48-minute episodes from CBS’s past and present lineup, including “Star Trek,” “MacGyver,” and “Beverly Hills 90210.” The season premiers of “Dexter” and “Californication” and current episodes of “Young and Restless” will also be shown on YouTube.

To improve the viewing experience, YouTube has introduced a new player for long-form video — known as Theater View — which plays video in a less pixelated 16:9 format. It’s no where near as nice as watching a full video on Hulu, but it may suffice for most viewers.

“When you go to full screen  you can actually kick back and watch it,” Shiva Rajaraman, senior product manager, told AdAge.

To support the effort, Google is also experimenting with advertising [see NewTeeVee]. The content will be  supported with pre-, mid-, and post-roll ads. YouTube will get a revenue cut, but neither CBS nor YouTube would discuss the terms of the agreement or revenue sharing.

If long-form video gains traction on YouTube, the balance of power — already in YouTube’s favor — will shift even more toward the Google property.

YouTube served up 5 billion videos in July, representing more than 44 percent of online videos viewed in the U.S. The next closest competitor was Hulu, with a share of 3.9 percent.

The YouTube giant has 330 million users, according to comScore, while Hulu has just 3.3 million. Even so, Hulu’s relative success with long-form video content has caught the attention of the cat-napping Google.

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last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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