Tuesday, March 31, 2009

ABC and ESPN Coming to YouTube… But Short-Form Only

If You Tube does one thing well, it is as a destination site to look for videos. And once those videos are discovered, it allows the viewer to see what people are talking about. And as a promotional vehicle it is an ideal fit for ABC, teasing viewers with short form pieces and linking them back to the brand site to watch the full episode. Brilliant! But the article only talks about ABC and ESPN, will Disney Channel content also be included? I'm hoping the answer is yes.

So why is there buzz still about a Hulu and Disney possible partnership? What does Hulu bring to Disney that adds more value than You Tube. It certainly doesn't bring added value to the brand name, only to the content piece. Certainly additional distribution points are useful for reach, but it is at an added cost that would drive viewers AWAY from their own sites.

The question that continues to be asked of Hulu and other sites that do distribute full length episodes is why; why give for free what the customer buys in a cable subscription. The model that Comcast and Time Warner have proposed is to only authorize web access to this content to households that also have a cable subscription. Disney gets a healthy subscriber fee and the revenue from Hulu surely won't offset the loss of cable subs.

This You Tube partnership makes much more sense; bringing short form content online and encouraging consumers to watch full episodes on their TV or on the Disney branded sites. Limiting full length episodes to 'authorized" cable customers could bring added subscription revenue opportunities as well. ESPN has already demonstrated that they can sell web content to cable companies; ESPN360 is a perfect example of that and Verizon currently offers it to its broadband customers. The decision to not strike a Hulu Disney agreement seems the better choice.

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