Hulu's foray into music videos took another small step on Tuesday, when it struck a deal to offer some video content from Warner Music Group, one of the four largest recording companies.
The partnership calls for Hulu to offer concert footage and music videos from a handful of Warner acts, including Jason Mraz, the rock band Paramore, and alternative group Muse. CNET reported seeing Muse's content at Hulu earlier Tuesday.
To be sure, even with the addition of Warner's acts, Hulu's music video library is modest, at best. In addition to Muse, Hulu cut a deal last month with EMI to access select concert footage and music videos of some of the label's artists. That agreement was believed to be Hulu's first label deal.
YouTube is supposed to be the digital era's version of MTV. The Google video site has penned agreements with Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner, and EMI, but that doesn't appear to be stopping Hulu from striking deals with some of the labels.
Warner is a likely candidate to test the waters with a new music video outlet. The company has always said it seeks wide distribution of content and doesn't want any one distributor to have exclusive access. Now throw in a nine-month feud between Warner and Google over the terms of their music-licensing agreement, and what you have is an open door, however small, into which Hulu could squiggle.
Clips from a handful of bands aren't enough to make Hulu a power in music videos, which, incidentally, are the most-watched fare at YouTube. But at the very least, the labels do appear to be looking for more control of their content.
Earlier this month, Universal and Sony launched Vevo, a standalone music video site technologically backed by Google.
Warner is also exploring its own online video-advertising strategy. Certainly, for the labels, competition between YouTube and Hulu is good.
Updated at 1:32 p.m. PT to reference the official announcement of a Warner Music-Hulu partnership.