YouTube Begins UK Long-Form TV VOD: C4 Signed, May Get ITV

YouTube has secured its first long-form on-demand UK TV content, doing a deal that sees Channel 4 add the same shows to the service that are already carried on the broadcaster’s own 4oD service.

Nearly 3,000 hours of shows – including Hollyoaks, Skins and Peep Show – will be available free with ad support from early 2010.

C4 was already selling its own ad inventory around its short-form clips – something YouTube had started allowing partners to do a few months ago.

It’s a three-year minimum term, though the rev split isn’t being disclosed. C4’s sales team is even getting an opportunity to sell ads around other YouTube partners’ videos.

For C4, it’s non-exclusive. 4oD, which was the UK’s first TV VOD platform and is now free, will continue, and the announcement says “other third party sites and services” are still in the mix.

So YouTube now has one of the four key UK broadcasters’ names to wave in negotiations with the other four, a real platform from which to negotiate for content that would make it a real TV VOD destination. But, as we’ve reported here and here, it’s by no means the only hopeful…

Hulu is seeking a UK foothold, Arqiva is trying to resurrect the Project Kangaroo aggregator, the BBC still offering iPlayer to counterparts, Joost was offering its platform and several parties are aiming to show VOD on TV via Canvas.

Truth is, all of the broadcasters are coming to favour off-site VOD syndication as well as their own-brand initiatives – but no-one wants to do an exclusive deal.

paidContent:UK understands ITV (LSE: ITV) will be announcing one destination in its strategy in the next few weeks. ITV’s outgoing executive chairman Michael Grade told a House Of Lords communications committee on Wednesday (via MediaWeek): “As a result of the Competition Commission turning down the decision to launch Project Kangaroo, I guarantee an American company will take the lion’s share of our content in the UK very soon.

“Google (NSDQ: GOOG) or Hulu. Hulu is looking to launch in the UK. As a result of the commission’s decision, UK creative money will go to the Americans and not get reinvested in the UK.”