NBC is teaming up with viral video Web site YouTube to promote its fall season. Under the agreement, announced Tuesday, YouTube will create a dedicated NBC channel on its Web site. In exchange, NBC will hype YouTube through on-air promos.
The deal is noteworthy, considering NBC’s legal turmoils with YouTube. A popular Saturday Night Live skit called “Lazy Sunday” was uploaded to YouTube in December 2005 without NBC’s consent. The video — which poked fun at Disney’s The Chronicles of Narnia movie — made YouTube an instant Internet sensation.
Lazy Sunday was viewed more than five million times on YouTube before NBC Universal forced the site to remove it, along with several other copyrighted NBC video clips in February 2006. NBC later placed the skit on its SNL web page as well as in the iTunes Store. Coincidently, YouTube.com won’t be able to post the Lazy Sunday video as part of the new deal, NBC spokesman Joe Libonati said Tuesday.
So what kind of content will this new NBC YouTube channel feature? NBC doesn’t plan to distribute full-length TV shows through YouTube. Instead, the network said, it will distribute promotional clips from programs such as SNL, The Office and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on the Web site. NBC already sells full-length episodes of Law & Order, The Office and other primetime series through the iTunes Store.
NBC is counting on YouTube to help lure viewers back to TV and boost their ratings. They are currently in 4th place behind Fox, ABC and CBS.