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YouTube to offer ITV and Channel 4 programmes

ITV and Channel 4 are in talks with Google to distribute full-length TV shows on YouTube in the UK, a report on NMA claims.

ITV and Channel 4 are in talks with Google to distribute full-length TV shows on YouTube in the UK, a report on NMA claims.

Insiders at the broadcasters are reported to have confirmed that talks are taking place. And although a director of content partnerships at BBC Worldwide -- the commercial arm of the Beeb -- refused to comment on whether the BBC was pursuing similar deals, he did say that the company "was committed to offering viewers access to its shows wherever they watched content."

Out with the new, in with the old

Any deals made with broadcasters in the UK would almost certainly be based archive material rather than recently broadcast shows. ITV and Channel 4, for example, both have  their own on-demand catch-up services on their Web sites, against which they sell their own advertisements. Splitting this ad cash with Google by putting the same content on YouTube seems foolish on the face of it.

The same seems true for the BBC. Full shows are unlikely to hit YouTube, because we are paying for the iPlayer via the license fee. So any BBC content on YouTube -- should any such deal be struck -- would be older shows, and stuff not currently being broadcast.

Project Kangaroo

Another interesting point to consider, is that earlier this year the Competition Commission vetoed Project Kangaroo -- the commercial project to bring together BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4 -- which aimed to produce a single destination for accessing content from all three providers. The Commission said Project Kangaroo posed "too much of a threat to competition" in the video-on-demand market.

Interestingly, it also said, "that viewers would benefit from better VOD services if the parties -- possibly in conjunction with other new and/or already established providers of VOD (emphasis added) -- competed with each other."

Is YouTube just such a 'provider'?

At the moment, commercial videos in the UK are primarily sold by iTunes, which sells content from BBC Worldwide and Channel 4 amongst others, and the Commission deems this acceptable. If these rumoured deals go through, we expect the shows on YouTube will be the same ones you can currently buy on iTunes, supported by ads.