WWE Now Offering Full-Length Episodes on YouTube

Pro-Wrestling Programming Among Video Site's First Premium Content

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The newest addition to YouTube's short menu of premium full-length programming is the sports entertainment company WWE, which just announced a deal with the web video giant that will make a handful of its popular pro wrestling shows ("Friday Night SmackDown," "WWE NXT," "WWE Superstars" and "ECW") available for streaming to U.S. users.

In addition to these full episodes, WWE is also adding more "content clips" from "WWE Monday Night Raw" and "WWE Classics" to its YouTube channel, which has more than 93,000 subscribers.

More premium content
YouTube has been gunning to offer more premium programming -- as opposed to short clips alone -- in a continuing effort to compete with official network websites that offer full streaming episodes, as well as sites such as Hulu, which also offers a wide selection of ad-supported streaming content.

This partnership with WWE will be one of the first of its kind for YouTube, which until now only offered select full-length programming from Univision in the U.S. and Channel 4 and Channel 5 in the U.K.

Reps from YouTube said the partnership is a natural fit for companies.

Broadening WWE's exposure
"Wrestling is enormously popular on YouTube," said Chris Dale, a spokesman for the site. "A large demographic of our community loves to watch these videos, and both [YouTube and WWE] saw the opportunity to provide that community with content that would really resonate with them."

WWE already offers many full-length prime-time shows on Hulu, including those it recently added to its YouTube channel. Brian Kalinowski, exec VP for WWE, in a statement said the partnership "enables WWE to increase its official PG-content offerings online for our fans, generate revenue, protect our content and broaden our brand exposure."

Analysts say the move could give WWE greater ability to police YouTube for violations of its copyright, but Mr. Dale said protecting and controlling content is something any content producer can do with YouTube's Content ID system, even without a premium partnership.

"Regardless of whether the WWE was putting full-length episodes on its channel, it would always have the option to use Content ID to block, monetize or track the engagement of its content," he said.

Wider range of platforms
Executives for WWE could not be immediately reached for comment on how the company's partnership with YouTube might affect its dealings with Hulu or its cable carriers, but Mr. Dale said offering premium video across a wider range of platforms is a great strategy for engaging a greater number of viewers.

He said YouTube is working with even more movie studios and TV networks to continue to expand the portal's premium offerings (as well as its diverse advertising options).

"A lot of content creators look at YouTube as a site that, if they want to get in front of the largest online video audience in the world, they just can't ignore," Mr. Dale said.

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