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

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

“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

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

“We’ve got a lot of learning to do,” Cherin said.

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