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YouTube seeks new streaming content

News, 04 December 2015

NEW YORK: YouTube, the Alphabet-owned video-sharing site, is reportedly looking to obtain streaming rights to TV series and movies to give a boost to its new subscription service.

According to sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal, senior executives from the company have met with Hollywood studios and other production companies in recent months to discuss licences for new content.

Former head of programming at MTV, Susanne Daniels, and Kelly Merryman, a former Netflix content executive, are reported to be involved in the talks.

In a development that is likely to intensify its challenge to established streaming providers, such as Netflix and Amazon.com, YouTube is said to be looking to secure premium content for YouTube Red, its $9.99-a-month subscription service that was launched in October.

Unlike the main YouTube service, which has been supported by ads since 2007, YouTube Red allows subscribers to receive videos and streamed music without ads.

The company is using the existing relationships that Google Play has developed with movie studios and other premium video content owners to negotiate streaming deals, the Journal reported.

And if the negotiations go well, it wants a "robust" collection of original and licensed programming to be ready in 2016.

Although it is not yet clear which particular TV shows or movies may be included in the eventual package, the sources revealed they could be streamed exclusively on YouTube Red or also released through traditional channels, such as movie theatres, cable networks and DVDs.

Commenting on the initiative, Mark Terbeek, a partner at venture capital firm Greycroft Partners, said YouTube had been slow to enter subscription services, but it could now pose a threat to established players.

"YouTube is dominant in ad-supported online video, but they have missed the subscription side," he said. "To get people to pay they will have to have higher-end content. I see YouTube as a legitimate threat to Netflix and Amazon and Hulu."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff