You might not be as familiar with it as the 60 million people living in the U.K. are, but local terrestrial TV station Channel 4 has just scored a World's first: It's the first broadcaster to get its full-length program archive shown via YouTube.
According to The Stage, it's officially the first time a broadcaster "anywhere in the World" has managed a deal like this, which has the significant benefit of being free—compared to paid WebTV-streaming options. It'll work by basically hooking together YouTube's streaming video tech, and Channel 4's own existing online catch-up service, dubbed 40D. The result is that recent shows and then some 3,000 hours of archive full-length programming will be available online starting in a few months, with full availability coming next year some time.
Sadly for British TV fans overseas, the videos will be available in the U.K. only, similar to the geographically tied in-house BBC iPlayer system—only, unlike the BBC's offering, Channel 4's plan is to use in-page advertising. Channel 4 itself has noted the hope is that the online partnership will "create significant value for Channel 4 [...] generating additional revenue to invest in creating high quality, original content."
Obviously it's great news for Channel 4, YouTube, and British TV viewers, but it's bad news for Hulu. The company, now well-known in the U.S., has been trying to open its doors in Britain and had aimed at a September 2009 window for launch. But just recently it's had to delay a U.K. launch until 2010 due to a lack of content partners. It's apparently fairly close to signing with ITV—the nation's third terrestrial channel—but with the BBC going its own way, and with Channel 4 now sewn up with YouTube it looks like Hulu may really be struggling to score a touchdown over the pond.
[Via The Stage]