YouTube is taking another stop in its transition from a purely user-generated site to one that also broadcasts premium content like TV shows and movies. In April, it started showing professional programming from the networks and studios. Tomorrow, Bloomberg reports, it will broadcast its first live premiere of a movie: Luc Besson’s new film about environmental issues “Home” at the same time it is released in theaters. Besson’s producing credits include The Fifth Element, Nikita and The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc.
The movie is showing on a dedicated, branded page; it’s unclear whether YouTube has lined up sponsorship for the broadcast. (We have a call into the company and will report back on what it says; a look at the site this morning didn’t suggest any sponsorship, though, of course, the movie isn’t airing until tomorrow.) YouTube has started streaming archived movies in an effort to seduce premium advertisers, but with the higher costs of live movie streaming, it will need to line up marquee sponsors to justify future live movie releases.
The news has a couple of implications. It further establishes the internet as a platform for live entertainment (rather than archived content) and represents more erosion of the already-shrinking exclusive-release window that studios have have long used with new movies. DVDs and pay per view versions of movies are being released closer and closer to the theatrical debuts of films in the hopes of driving additional revenue — a development that theater chains have long said hurts their ability to sell tickets.
Update: YouTube has confirmed they did not package this release with a sponsorship.