SYDNEY, 13 OCTOBER 2008 - Couch potatoes will have access to full-length episodes of popular television shows through YouTube following a tie-up between United States broadcaster CBS and the video website's owner Google.
The deal adds to an increasing amount of television programming appearing on the internet as advertisers, production houses and television studios chase audiences that are increasingly moving online.
It is also part of a push from Google to generate revenue from YouTube, which has struggled to make money for the internet search heavyweight despite web surfers watching close to 5 billion videos on the site in July.
Under the terms of the agreement, Google will display advertisements before, during and after episodes of CBS shows such as Dexter, Californication, Beverly Hills 90210 and Star Trek when they are broadcast through YouTube.
Google has previously resisted surrounding videos with advertisements because of the short length of many of the clips on the website.
However, other organisations such as NBC Universal and News Corp have been pushing hard to offer internet users full-length television episodes and feature films under ad-support business models.
YouTube director of content partnerships Jordan Hoffner said that the company was in part responding to the growing popularity of rival internet video sites.
"This is about giving the community what they want. Plus we're not blind to the growth of long form on other sites," Mr Hoffner told The Hollywood Reporter.
The volume of content available online in North America, Europe and Australia has increased dramatically over the past year, aided by the proliferation of high- speed internet connections.
Broadcasters are also responding to television and movie piracy, as well as the strength of Apple's iTunes music and video store, which has come to dominate online sales of digital content.
The activity has given rise to a plethora of online TV services, including NBC's and News Corp's $US1 billion ($1.6 billion) Hulu.com venture, the BBC's iPlayer and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's iView.
Most Australian broadcasters offer so-called catch-up services, but are yet to move as quickly into internet TV as overseas operators.
"The networks here have been slower to do a lot of that," said a media equities analyst, who declined to be named.
"They talk about having digital platforms, but when you look at what they've got compared to what's available in the US they're aeons behind really."
Mr Hoffner told The Hollywood Reporter that the website planned to announce additional content partners in coming weeks. - AFR
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