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Premium content now live on YouTube from Channel 4, BBC and ITV.

Surfers in the UK are the first to see the development of YouTube into a premium content portal today. Broadcaster Channel 4 has joined forces with YouTube to make full length versions of its shows available on the popular video sharing website. By visiting YouTube.com/shows viewers can see many of their favourite shows.

However, it is not just Channel 4 that is in on the act, broadcaster ITV has also made available segments of it's popular shows such as X Factor online and it is now even possible to view these legally on YouTube. Not to be left out, BBC's international branch, BBC Worldwide has made many of its programs available too. Disappointingly Five seems to have yet again not come on board with the idea and is restricting its content to Demand Five online.

The YouTube shows page is very well organised and is now one of tabs at the top of the YouTube navigation as can be seen below:

Once on the shows page you can search by genre on the left, look at the shows in the spotlight, featured broadcasters or look at what is popular. However, not all the content on the "Shows" page is from major broadcasters, in fact YouTube sensation "Fred" appears under the Popular tab.

YouTube's design is much better than any other actual individual broadcaster's VOD webpages once on the shows page. You can subscribe to receive the latest episodes of shows, switch between Full Episodes and Clips, see the length and air date of the programme, select what season you want to watch and see more from that broadcaster. YouTube's implementation here is second-to-none.

Before a programme starts it also tells you the age rating of the programme and that "viewer discretion is advised" if necessary - a useful touch. This could be the start of one video website where all major broadcasters can come together to offer their videos on demand, similar to Hulu in the US (which still doesn't have videos from CBS), and YouTube does have experience in this field so it would make sense for this to happen eventually.

The content does have to be paid for and users are not willing to do this after already having to pay a license fee. Therefore, Channel 4's shows are currently monetised by a 30-second pre-roll, ITV's clips have no pre-rolls and full length episodes have a 15-second pre-roll and BBC Worlwide programmes have a 20-second pre-roll. These seem like reasonable times and the programmes do not appear to have ad breaks in the middle but this may change.

Highlights from Channel 4 include Drop The Dead Donkey, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Father Ted, The Inbetweeners and The IT Crowd. The BBC has Walking with Cavemen, Wildlife Specials and Dr Who (Classic Series) to name but a few.

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