Google Streams TV, Movies for Free, With Advertising

Pepsi, Hewlett Packard, Netflix Test Banner, Post-roll Ads

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Move over, iTunes. Google has begun streaming premium movies and TV shows for free along with banner and post-roll advertising. The model is still in limited testing, but its success could radically impact the way media companies distribute content online.
'Charlie Rose' is one of the programs streamed on Google Video. Much of site's video is free, but some premium shows still carry a price tag
'Charlie Rose' is one of the programs streamed on Google Video. Much of site's video is free, but some premium shows still carry a price tag

A number of top advertisers have already signed up for the test, including Pepsi and Netflix. Hewlett-Packard is sponsoring nearly hour-long interviews from PBS's "The Charlie Rose Show," and Burger King is sponsoring seven-minute clips from the 1960s cartoon Felix the Cat.

To pay or not to pay?
Episodes of the Mr. Magoo cartoon that have cost $1.99 since Google Video's January launch are now free to stream, as are Charlie Chaplin movies that cost 99 cents a piece. Other premium offerings, such as CBS's "Survivor" and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," will still carry a fee of $1.99. Videos that consumers create and upload to Google Video will remain ad- and cost-free -- unless producers choose to charge fees.

While Yahoo, AOL, MSN and a slew of smaller sites distribute free ad-supported video snippets, pay-to-play remains the norm for longer-form offerings. Apple's iTunes Music Store has championed the pay model since it began selling videos online last October. By April, Apple had already sold 15 million videos at $1.99 a piece.

Disney's ABC just reported a successful test run of free full-length programming online. Its prime-time shows were streamed 11 million times during the first month. Additionally, popular kids shows such as "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody" were streamed 26.7 million times between June 2-11 on Disney Channel's broadband player.

Broadband-video market swells
The market for broadband video has ballooned because of increased broadband penetration and technology advances. Twenty-three percent of adults online report watching video on their computers in the past 30 days, according to Nielsen/NetRatings @Plan.

"We are always looking for ways to show targeted and engaging advertising to users, and we think that Google Video is a natural extension of this ongoing effort,'' Google said in a statement.

To participate in the test, advertisers are being asked to select and bid to sponsor individual videos, according to Google's statement. The winning bidders are promised 15- to 30-second post-roll ads, "persistent branding" while the video is playing through a text and icon above the video player, and a listing on the sponsored-videos page.
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