YouTube Freshens Up, Adds Sony, Will Soon Charge for Some Content

YouTube, (s GOOG) as expected, has revised its site design to better showcase premium content. While the redesign does not appear to be live just yet, it will include new tabs for shows and subscriptions. The new shows page features a rotating spotlight section and a list of premium content by genre, network, title and popularity. It’s not like Hulu invented these concepts, but yes, that’s exactly what YouTube’s fresh new thinking looks like. (See a gallery of screenshots below the jump.)

ytcrackleAlso notably, Sony (s SNE) has added full-length TV shows and movies to its existing Crackle web originals channel on YouTube. But they’re not new releases; show selections include Married With Children, Fantasy Island, and Party of Five, and movies include Cliffhanger and The Blue Lagoon.

Those moves are significant, but expected, so the most surprising YouTube news of the day came from Google CEO Eric Schmidt on the company earnings call. He said YouTube will “very, very soon” add “micropayments and other forms of subscription models.”

Other new YouTube partners announced alongside the redesign include Endemol, Anime Network, Scott Entertainment, Entertainment Rights, Shout Factory, Telenext Media, Documentary Channel, First Look Studios, IndieFlix, Saavn, Snag Films, Venevision and Bandai.

Existing premium content providers are also participating in the new shows page: CBS (s CBS), MGM, Lionsgate, Starz, Anime Network, Cinetic Rights Management, Current TV, Discovery, Documentary Channel (s DISCA), First Look Studios, IndieFlix and National Geographic.

Shows and movies will only be available in the U.S. and will feature more in-stream advertising than the site’s current norm. Google is also announcing today that it’s extending its Google TV Ads product to online distribution of TV shows.