Lions Gate Entertainment, the studio responsible for classics like Dirty Dancing and recent TV hits like Weeds, has signed a revenue-sharing deal with the video hub.
It was alluded to by Google CEO Eric Schmidt at the Madison & Vine conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday, and according to the Hollywood Reporter, subsequently confirmed by Lionsgate.
It's not clear how extensive this deal will be. Presumably, it means that Lionsgate would create a branded "channel" on YouTube, and serve its TV and film content accompanied by advertising. That's not particularly innovative, but the Hollywood Reporter added that additionally, short clips viewable for free could be accompanied by a link for a full-length digital purchase. In other words, you might not get free full-length movies.
Right now, most film studios limit their involvement with YouTube to trailers and promotional clips, but if one signs a more extensive deal, others could follow suit--though probably not Paramount, DreamWorks, or MTV Films. Those are owned by Viacom, which has famously sued YouTube.
But it's likely a blow for Hulu, the NBC Universal-News Corp. joint venture that was created last year to provide a more civilized outlet for television and film content on the Web, promising higher ad revenues, no chance for piracy, and a refreshing lack of goofy user-generated videos.
If Lionsgate is willing to brave the hordes of skateboarding-dog videos posted on Google's site, that all could change. Then, however, Lionsgate and YouTube could face a whole new problem: whether that revenue-sharing deal actually results in decent profits.