YouTube has experimented with long-form content in the past. However, the site is now rolling out full-length episodes of vintage TV shows like Star Trek, MacGyver, and the not-so-vintage Beverly Hills 90210. Users can also watch these in the recently introduced “theater view,” featuring an expanded player that looks similar to the Hulu player.
We can expect more past TV shows to be introduced over time. However, an interesting question is: Will reruns of current shows start making their way onto YouTube?
The move addresses several issues for the site as online video matures. First, it reintroduces premium content to YouTube in a legal way. Equally significant, it also enables the site to show pre-, mid- and post-roll ads in ways that are more acceptable to users. According to the YouTube blog post on the new full-length programming:
As we test this new format, we also want to ensure that our partners have more options when it comes to advertising on their full-length TV shows. You may see in-stream video ads (including pre-, mid- and post-rolls) embedded in some of these episodes; this advertising format will only appear on premium content where you are most comfortable seeing such ads. In order to make this clear to you, we’ve labeled all full-length videos with a Film Strip symbol ( ) so you’ll know exactly what kind of content you’re choosing to watch and what ads you might see.
YouTube is the dominant video site online:
My belief, however, is that people will become less interested in much of the user-generated content out there, over time. Online video watchers will instead seek out the clips and full-length content from professional producers (e.g., SNL, Daily Show). After all, putting Coke-Mentos aside, bootlegged premium content is what drove the rise of YouTube in the first place.
Also noteworthy, last week YouTube introduced a new “click to buy” capability that seeks to drive e-commerce transactions as another monetization scenario for the site.