YouTube steps into the television pay-per-view ring.

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Sites like Hulu have been offering free streaming video of your favorite TV shows for a while now, so it’s no wonder that YouTube is getting into the act. But unlike Hulu, YouTube intends to charge for the service. According to Peter Kafka YouTube will be offering

something similar to what Apple and Amazon already offer: First-run shows, without commercials, for $1.99 an episode, available the day after they air on broadcast or cable.

The big difference with the YouTube model is that your favorite episodes will stream to your computer instead of downloading (Apple and Amazon let you download). Negotiating with the networks are still in the works. But what network wouldn’t love to charge for a streamed version of their shows instead of the Hulu model, where shows are readily available for free? One thing is certain, the Hulu free-for-all model is about to get a little fire under it’s digital ass.

MSN Video gets a Bing facelift.

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Microsoft ups their video search offering by launching an all-new Bing video search engine which replaces the MSN video search. According to a recent release by cynopsis: digital via contributor Wayne Karrfalt,

“the new Bing Video site provides a straightforward interface that points users to videos that are gaining steam or are new to the web. Partnerships with Hulu, ABC and YouTube give Bing access to over 900 TV shows in all. The new Bing also now includes results from its recent licensing deal with next generation search system Wolfram Alpha

I checked out the new Bing Video section, and was impressed by the clean Hulu-like design. Here’s a link from CNET if you want to read more or just click on the video, which weirdly features the MSN video logo and not the Bing logo. What’s up with that?

Google/YouTube grab billions of eyeballs in August

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According to recent August 2009 data from the comScore Video Metrix service, Google sites (including YouTube) garnered over 10 billion video views in the month of August alone. No other brands came close. Google has the majority of video views considering that overall numbers totaled 25 billion video views, according to the data. That’s a lot of traffic! Microsoft came in at a distant second with only 546 million views for the month with Viacom digital and Hulu coming in just behind in third and fourth place. It’s evident that Google/YouTube has deep penetration when it comes to online videos when you consider that they attracted 121.4 million unique viewers for August. Whenever you see numbers like that, you can expect to see advertisers and marketers flocking toward a medium that can capture that much traffic and keep growing. You can bet that video will be huge in the next year. Keep an eye out for more blog videos, how-to videos, branded content, viral videos, interactive videos, television shows, independent videos and all kinds of advertising to go with it. Let the proliferation begin.

Google’s YouTube encourages better video content for news freaks.

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The good old days of feasting your eyes on a kid making a fool of himself dressed as a Jedi are fading fast and Google knows it. Google”™s YouTube recently unleashed Reporters Center , an offering that”™s aimed at both professional journalists and any amateur who wields a digital video camera. There”™s no doubt that slicker content is gaining momentum on the web. As I”™ve mentioned in an earlier post , sites like Hulu are attracting large audiences with videos made by the pros. This play by Google is interesting because it is trying to up the quality by inviting the pros in, while at the same time giving their current base of amateur reporters the skills and techniques that will raise the bar. Matt Cutts who is well known as Google”™s SEO guru has been evangelizing about better content in recent months and it looks like Reporters Center is the type of thing that Cutts has been talking about. It”™s a win-win situation as content will get better and better. But you have to worry if content gets so good that it drowns out videos like the numa numa kid.

Do you Hulu?

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Have you seen Hulu? If you haven’t yet, you will. The first time I saw it was when it was in beta stage and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Not because of the content, but because of the crystal clear picture.  Before Hulu, I was accustomed to watching badly produced YouTube videos on a tiny screen. Enter Hulu, with eye-popping resolution, a wide format and a growing library of movies and TV shows. In fact, according to eMarketer, Hulu is picking up speed and recently ranked in the top three for most watched videos among US internet users. OK, but just to keep it all in perspective, they were a distant third with Google videos being watched by whopping 5.9 billion viewers versus Hulu’s 437 million. And when you check out the content available on Hulu, you can see why their numbers are growing. My favorite thing to do seconds after watching a funny SNL digital short is to crack open my Mactop, hop on over to Hulu and watch that motherlover until my eyes secrete tears of joy. Again, content is king; it’s the draw.  When you have great content and your production is pro, you can expect to attract more and more eyeballs. While YouTube is great for watching people being stupid, Hulu takes it to another level by giving you a better entertainment experience with slicker content and much higher production values. If you haven’t seen Hulu yet, may I suggest you venture out from under your rock and see what Hulu (www.hulu.com) has to offer.