Sony Pictures is in talks to licence some of its films to YouTube, CNET reports. The deal would be the third major agreement YouTube struck with a major Hollywood studio to distribute its content following a deal last fall with MGM (incidentally owned by Sony and a private-equity consortium) covering movies and TV shows and last week’s deal with Disney to make its clips available online.
Sony already has its own Web video service, Crackle, and it’s uncertain whether the deal would involve YouTube acquiring Crackle or merely the rights to make many of Sony’s films available for online streaming, similar to the deal Sony has with Hulu.
In recent months, Sony has become more willing to licence its content for online streaming, making several high-profile movies like In the Line of Fire and Single White Female as well as TV shows like Damages and Rescue Me available on Hulu. The studio also has deals with Gala, Sprint and AOL.
Based on these other deals, CNET notes, a YouTube deal would likely have a few restrictions:
Here’s the catch: judging from the other distribution deals Sony Pictures has struck, it probably wouldn’t give YouTube access to more than 15 movies. The studio has also asked some partners to display films using the Crackle video player, a request that undoubtedly is designed to give Sony Pictures control of advertising and to direct people back to Crackle. The studio also doesn’t allow partners to syndicate its content, which means YouTube users won’t be able to embed Sony films on their blogs or personal Web sites.
While we’re not sure of Crackle’s role in the deal, a greater showcase for Sony’s video site would be a major benefit as it’s still largely unknown. Furthermore, getting Sony’s movies could help YouTube compete with other movie streaming services like Hulu. However, who knows how a YouTube deal would affect the one Sony already has in place with Hulu?
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