YouTube cozies up to Hollywood

Despite growing benefits, studios still cautious

YouTube has been on a charm offensive in Hollywood — and it seems to be working.

Jordan Hoffner, the vidsharing site’s director of content partnerships, attributes the softening of the biz’s attitude toward YouTube to a number of factors, including its VideoID program, which helps identify unauthorized clips for removal or ad placement, and its new click-to-buy program.

“All these things helped,” Hoffner says.

However, wariness undeniably remains. Viacom is embroiled in a $1 billion copyright infringement suit against YouTube, charging the site with failing to remove unauthorized material aggressively enough. Even studios that have been relatively bullish about YouTube, like Lionsgate, have restricted content to clips, and are careful to cast their dealings with the site as promotional in nature.

“Caution is good,” Hoffner maintains. “People need to feel comfortable to do business with us.”

For Hoffner, the goal is to increase breadth, so that users can view whatever type of video they want, whenever they want. The site has inked deals with individual creators such as Seth MacFarlane, whose “Cavalcade of Comedy” shorts have racked up 17 million views and have 138,000 subscribers. Hoffner promises more such deals in coming months.

The biggest challenge for YouTube is finding a way to promote these professionally produced offerings while remaining true to its user generated roots. “The fact of the matter is, that’s what gets us our audience,” he says. “It’s an incredible viewership engine for all content.”

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