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NBC, News Corp. to Launch YouTube Rival

UPDATED: News Corp. and NBC Universal announced today they will form a video distribution network for premium content to rival the content that already appears on Google's YouTube.

AOL, MSN, MySpace and Yahoo will be the new site's initial distribution partners, president and CEO Peter Chernin and NBC Universal President and CEO Jeff Zucker told a conference call for reporters. Chernin said they also talked to Google CEO Eric Schmidt earlier Thursday, offering to include YouTube as a distribution partner.

Chernin said the venture is "obviously not a YouTube killer," though the network will feature user-generated content that made YouTube popular along with the what the executives called their companies' "premium content."

The network will debut this summer with thousands of hours of full-length programming, movies and clips from at least a dozen networks and two major film studios, the companies said, including 24, Heroes, The Simpsons and Little Miss Sunshine. And each distribution partner will feature the site's content in an embedded player customized with a look and feel particular to that site.

Charter advertisers will include Cadbury Schweppes, Cisco, Esurance, Intel, Royal Caribbean and General Motors.

On the call, Chernin and Zucker confirmed reports that the joint venture has been in discussions for some time now.

"There's obviously been ups and downs, but the fact is News Corp. and NBC Universal remained committed and have a very good working relationship," Zucker said.

Viacom, which is currently suing Google for $1 billion over copyright infringement on YouTube, hopes to provide content for the venture after its launch this summer, sources familiar with the matter told internetnews.com.

The executives agreed there was room for another content producer within the joint venture, though neither mentioned Viacom by name.

"We're pretty comfortable with the current arrangement, but if we thought there was someone who brought something tremendous we'd be open-minded and we would contemplate it," Chernin said.

Much of the joint venture's final product is still up for discussion. The service does not have a name yet and neither of the executives were sure what kind of advertising the network would sell.

At one point during the call, Chernin confirmed that the site will allow for YouTube-like video uploading. Later, Zucker said that, while the site will feature "user-generated content," the focus will be premium content.

Neither were sure what the site would look like or how it would be organized except that it would possess "Web 2.0" features and feel "contemporary."

"We've got a lot of learning to do," Cherin said.