Looks like it’s all but official: The New York Times is reporting that YouTube will announce on Monday that it’s struck a deal with MGM to put movies and TV shows from that studio’s library on YouTube in legal, full-length, ad-sponsored form.
The examples that the Times gives make it sound like MGM isn’t exactly uploading all its crown jewels to YouTube in one fell swoop: They include the feature films The Magnificent Seven, Bulletproof Monk, and old episodes of American Gladiators.
The content may not be transcendent, but the arrangement is a meaningful moment of glasnost between YouTube and Hollywood, which have spent far more time making war with each other than making nice. The current-day MGM is a struggling shadow of its former self, but perhaps its move will lead bigger studios to consider striking deals with YouTube rather than demanding that their stuff be taken down.
YouTube’s interest in MGM content is presumably in part a defensive move to gird itself to compete with Hulu, the all-professional-content video site that’s best known for its scads of TV shows, but which also has some movies. Like, oh, for instance, Moby Dick:
(Okay, we’re back. Sorry–I’ve always wanted to run a John Huston movie on my site.)
It’s inevitable that all video content will eventually migrate its way to the Web in one form or another, but nearly all of the details remain fuzzy–most importantly, how quickly it’ll all happen, which sites and services will get the content, and whether ad-support and fee-based venues will both thrive. I’m not making any predictions about how things will play out, but I’m glad to see even baby steps in the right direction. And hey, I’ve never seen The Magnificent Seven in its entirety…