YouTube Wants to License TV Shows, Movies for Its Red Service

The company is in talks to expand its $9.99 monthly Red video streaming services with TV show and movie content, according to a report.

YouTube Red streaming services

Five weeks after launching its fledgling YouTube Red streaming video subscription service, YouTube is now seeking to sign deals to license additional content from movie studios and production companies.

YouTube is seeking the additional streaming rights to offer more to subscribers as it fights its way in a marketplace filled with competitors such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and others, according to a Dec. 2 story by The Wall Street Journal.

YouTube executives "have met with Hollywood studios and other production companies in recent months to consider pitches and negotiate licenses for new content, according to people familiar with the situation," the paper reported. "Susanne Daniels, the former programming chief of MTV who joined YouTube in the summer, and Kelly Merryman, a former Netflix content executive who joined YouTube in late 2014, are involved, one of the people said."

The particulars on the movies and TV programming that the company is seeking are not known, and the talks so far appear to be in the early stages, the report said. YouTube itself is free to view and has been supported by ads since 2007.

YouTube is owned by Alphabet, the parent of Google. "YouTube is using Google Play's existing relationships with movie studios and other premium video content owners to negotiate streaming deals, one of the people familiar with the situation said," the story reported. "YouTube and Google Play deal makers work out of the same office in Beverly Hills, Calif., the person noted."

YouTube's Red subscription service was launched Oct. 28 to give customers who love the site's videos, but not its ads, the ability to pay $9.99 monthly to see their favorite content without having to watch ads.

YouTube Red gave the company a new way to monetize its services beyond just getting revenue from its online advertisers. Customers can sign up for a one-month free trial. Red was started based partly on feedback from customers who said they would pay to avoid the ads, the company said. The subscription service allows members to view all of YouTube's videos without ads and to save videos that they can then watch offline on a smartphone or tablet. Red members also can play videos in the background using YouTube Red.

A membership extends across all of a user's devices and can be used wherever the member can sign in to YouTube. Subscribers also can use the company's recently launched Gaming app and will be eligible to use the new YouTube Music app when it is launched in the future.

In addition, YouTube Red subscribers will receive exclusive access early next year to new, original shows and movies from some of YouTube's biggest creators, including Scare PewDiePie, Sing It!, Lazer Team and A Trip to Unicorn Island, according to a recent eWEEK report.

Earlier in October, YouTube unveiled a revamped YouTube mobile app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users with a redesigned Version 10.38 edition that the company says makes content easier to find and view, while giving users improved sharing capabilities. The app allows users to view everything from music videos to content featuring gaming, entertainment, news and more.