rolled outEnter YouTube

The New York Post is reporting that Google is prepping a YouTube-based subscription streaming service for feature films and TV Shows in Europe. The company has reportedly set aside $100 million for striking deals in Hollywood as a part of its newly aggressive plan to transform YouTube into a home for longer, more premium content than the 10-min-or-less viral videos that have defined its existence. The other day we told you about YouTube's plans to secure the rights to live NBA and NHL games -- a move that can also trace its momentum to overseas experimentation.

Spearheading the movement to partner YouTube with the movie studios is Robert Kyncl, a former Netflix executive. If Google does succeed, that would put it in direct competition with the red giant, which could soon find itself in a dog fight despite a decade headstart and wild successes with its pioneering streaming service.

But the big question is: Is this even the right move for YouTube? It's easy to understand the site's goal to get viewers to tune in to content for longer stretches of time; but part of the reason that sporting events seemed like a good fit was because that sector is largely unrepresented online outside of the leagues' own pricey subscription packages. Movies and TV shows, however, are already strongly associated with Netflix, Hulu, and now Amazon. YouTube's primary strength has always been blanketing the web with irresistable shorts like the recent "Thom Yorke Dancing to 'Single Ladies.'" Will its millions of users even want that content tangled up with features? And does its reputation for cellphone quality videos hamper YouTube's ability to attract movie audiences in the first place?

It's a big gamble, and there are a lot more unanswered questions. We'll be watching how things go in Europe if this pans out. 

[NYP]