Page last updated at 22:36 GMT, Monday, 10 November 2008

Full-length MGM films on YouTube

By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley

Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde
Legally Blonde is one of 4,100 titles in the MGM library

YouTube, the largest video-sharing website, will show full-length films from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's archives.

The partnership is aimed boosting advertising revenue for both YouTube and the Hollywood studio.

It will result in the launch of a video-on-demand channel called Impact, dedicated exclusively to action films, TV shows and clips.

"I think it will grow into a nice little business," said Jim Packer, co-president of MGM Worldwide Television.

He told the BBC that YouTube made an ideal partner because of its 280 million monthly users.

"I think YouTube has something that a lot of sites don't have.

"They have a lot of people walking through their front door everyday. And if they are smart in how they grow this, YouTube should have a successful business also," said Mr Packer.

Another channel that has been unveiled will showcase episodes from the popular programme American Gladiators from the 1980s and 1990s.

The videos will cost users nothing to download but will contain advertising.

Initially they will only be available in the US. But there are plans to open the service elsewhere once rights issues have been cleared.

'Entertainment destination'

Google, which bought YouTube two years ago for $1.65bn, has been searching for ways to make money out of the site without driving away its huge fan base.

The site has been facing competition from other video-sharing services such as Hulu, which offers programming from NBC Universal and News Corp's Fox as well as MGM.

Cast of Star Trek
Star Trek was first broadcast in 1966

Under an agreement YouTube has already signed with CBS, users can download classic TV shows such as Star Trek, MacGyver, and Beverly Hills 90210.

It has other arrangements in place with companies like the BBC, Sony, Lionsgate and Oprah.

YouTube said that striking a deal with MGM made sense given its commitment to deliver premium content online.

"YouTube is committed to helping our community of fans discover new content and reconnect with their all time favourite TV shows and movies," said Jordan Hoffner, director of content partnerships for the company.

"By partnering with MGM, YouTube is strengthening its position as an entertainment destination where Hollywood studios can reach a global audience."

'Growing forum'

The YouTube Impact channel will feature clips from MGM classics such as Rocky, Ronin, Legally Blonde, and The Magnificent Seven.

The films on show include Lone Wolfe McQuade and Bulletproof Monk, as well as those starring the actor Chuck Norris.

Daniel Craig
The Bond movies represent a major franchise for MGM

"It's safe to say you won't see those blockbuster theatricals shortly after their release or after their TV window," admitted Mr Packer.

Neither will users see any of the James Bond films playing on YouTube.

"They do very nicely on their own under existing licences and we are very protective of that content," Mr Packer said, adding: "There are plenty of other films we would like to expose."

He told the BBC that he did not expect to be the only studio to make these kinds of deals.

Mr Packer also said there were plans to launch another five to 10 channels.

One would be aimed at female viewers.

"We are in the process of figuring out a female-skewed brand," explained Mr Packer.

"We could put up a number of say romantic clips from shows like Moonstruck and put up a number of key feature films and create a female targeted site that would get a much higher advertising rate."

MGM said it hoped new channels would be launched within the next 18 months.

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