Confirmed: ABC and ESPN Coming to YouTube… But Short-Form Only

Disney just announced it will send ABC and ESPN content to massive video site YouTube. The deal is similar to what paidContent reported yesterday (our coverage), with one big distinction: it only applies to short-form — not full-episode — content.

ESPN content is set to fully arrive on the site in mid-April, followed by ABC Entertainment, ABC News, ABC Family and SOAPnet in early May. Disney will be able to sell its own ads (as other partners are able to do), and ESPN, at least, will use its own video player for some sports highlights rather than YouTube’s hosting (as CBS did for live March Madness video). The biggest change associated with Disney content will be YouTube’s coming premium content-oriented redesign.

The YouTube deal doesn’t rule out another one under discussion between Disney and Hulu. That would most certainly be for long-form content distribution rather than short-form, and give Disney a significant stake in Hulu. Currently, ABC only distributes long-form content with the installment of a Move Networks plug-in on-site, while it makes short-form content more widely syndicatable. That short-form content has been very popular, but it’s not terrifically accessible on ABC.com.

In an emailed release, Disney explained the deal was about reaching a broader audience — which is certainly what YouTube has. “Making our content available to fans via YouTube presents an extraordinary opportunity for ESPN to create new revenue streams and new value to advertisers, as they continue to look for new ways to connect with fans in the digital environment,” said George Bodenheimer, co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of ESPN and ABC Sports.

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