UPDATE 1-News Corp, NBC plan new online video service


(Adds details, Viacom comment)

NEW YORK, March 22 (Reuters) - News Corp. and NBC Universal said on Thursday they will jointly launch an online video site this summer, in a move to compete directly with Google Inc.'s popular YouTube.

The site will feature full-length television shows, movies and clips, including popular shows such as "Saturday Night Live" and "The Simpsons," and hit films like "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Borat."

Yahoo Inc. , Microsoft Corp. , Time Warner Inc.'s AOL and News Corp.'s MySpace will be the site's initial distribution partners, according to a joint statement from News Corp. and NBC Universal, owned by General Electric Co. and Vivendi .

The free site will include advertising, with Cadbury Schweppes Plc , Cisco Systems Inc. and General Motors among companies that have signed on.

"This is a game changer for Internet video," News Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin said in the statement.

"We'll have access to just about the entire U.S. Internet audience at launch. And for the first time, consumers will get what they want -- professionally produced video delivered on the sites where they live," he added.

Traditional media companies have been rumored for months to be planning some type of joint online video service to reach a new generation of viewers who are as likely to be found in front of computers as television screens.

NBC and News Corp. were said to have tried to woo Viacom Inc. into the venture.

But Viacom, the owner of MTV Networks and Comedy Central, decided to take the legal route against YouTube, accusing it and Google of "massive intentional copyright infringement" in a billion-dollar lawsuit filed earlier this month.

Viacom said in a statement the new online video venture was a welcome addition to the industry because it will provide a vehicle that respects copyright protection.

"The venture supports our view that upholding the rights of content creators is the only logical and legitimate path for the creative and technology communities to come together (on the Internet)," Viacom said.

When the NBC/News Corp. site launches, it will include full episodes and clips from current TV shows such as "Heroes," "24," "House," "My Name Is Earl," "Friday Night Lights," and "The Tonight Show," as well as shows from the companies' television libraries.

Films including "Little Miss Sunshine," "The Bourne Identity" and "The Bourne Supremacy" will also be available on the site. (Additional reporting by Tiffany Wu and Michele Gershberg)



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