Entertainment junkies everywhere are about to be able to get their fix online. In news that could change the way you watch your favorite movies and programs, News Corporation and NBC Universal announced today that they will help build, what they’re calling, “the largest Internet video distribution network ever assembled”. Working in partnership with AOL, MSN, MySpace and Yahoo!, the new service will offer thousands of hours of full-length programming, movies and clips, starting this summer.
Initially the new site will distribute through their partners, and U.S. visitors will have unlimited access to the library of video content. Supported by advertising deals with a number of corporations, the site is a clear step forward against the popularity of Google’s YouTube, but it also deals with the fact that viewers aren’t always turning on their TVs to catch their favorite shows. File sharing and even viewers who time-shift to watch TV shows are having a distinct impact on viewer numbers, and this new service plugs advertisers directly back into the equation.
“This is a game changer for Internet video,” said Peter Chernin, President and Chief Operating Officer of News Corporation. “We’ll have access to just about the entire U.S. Internet audience at launch. And for the first time, consumers will get what they want — professionally produced video delivered on the sites where they live. We’re excited about the potential for this alliance and we’re looking forward to working with any content provider or distributor who wants to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity.”
The key to this deal is of course that the video is protected from downloading, and offers a chance to track how many people are watching certain shows, films, or other content. At launch the service will be managed and run by a group of executives from NBC Universal and News Corp., with a permanent team being announced shortly. The branding of the site, launch date, and other partners, will also be announced in the coming weeks.
At launch, full episodes and clips from current hit shows, including Heroes, 24, House, My Name Is Earl, Saturday Night Live, Friday Night Lights, The Riches, 30 Rock, The Simpsons, The Tonight Show, Prison Break, Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader and Top Chef. The service will also offer personalized video playlists, mashups, online communities and video search, along with films Borat, Little Miss Sunshine, Devil Wears Prada, The Bourne Identity and Bourne Supremacy.
The release also noted that additional content partners will be welcomed at any time to enhance viewer choice on the service.