Google’s YouTube is moving ahead with its push for more professional movie content. Sony (SNE) confirms to Bloomberg that it’s talking to Google about potentially putting ad-supported, full-length movies on YouTube.
More deals like that could increasingly pit YouTube up with Hulu for deals and eyeballs. YouTube has the biggest online video audience by far, but Hulu has built a brand around professional TV shows and movies.
But will either site win in the long run? While online video has proven popular for short clips and even full TV episodes, it seems like most people still want to watch movies (and probably TV episodes, given the chance) on their TV sets and not their laptops. And that’s where cable companies — not Web video companies — have an advantage, owning dedicated networks with no bandwidth caps or fees, digital set-top boxes in tens of millions of homes, and having actual revenue to share.
Any studio that does a deal with YouTube or Hulu has as much incentive to do a deal with a cable provider like Comcast or Time Warner to put those movies into their free (potentially ad-supported) on-demand libraries. In the long run, that’s probably where people are more likely to watch them, which is how revenue is made.
So unless the laptop overtakes the TV as the preferred viewing spot — not happening soon for most people — it’s hard to see either YouTube or Hulu making serious money for studios (relative to cable) with movies on the Web.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.