NBC will use the YouTube video-sharing site to promote its fall television lineup in a strategic partnership that further underscores the Internet's growing role in generating buzz around traditional media shows.
Even with the deal, announced Tuesday, YouTube visitors are not likely to find legal clips of "Lazy Sunday," the "Saturday Night Live" parody rap that circulated widely on YouTube and other video-sharing sites before NBC Universal lawyers requested their removal.
Rather, the deal will highlight promos made by or for NBC. They may include clips from new shows or old ones such as "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," behind-the-scenes interviews and other features largely exclusive to the Internet. NBC also is sponsoring a contest for fans of "The Office" to create their own promotional videos.
"The distinction between television and video is becoming murkier and murkier," said John Miller, chief marketing officer for the NBC Universal Television Group. "Rather than putting our heads in the sand and saying this doesn't exist, we're trying to jump in and embrace it."
Miller added that the deal helps expose upcoming NBC shows to viewers who may tune out television over the summer but continue to surf the Internet.
YouTube is, by some measures, the leading video-sharing site on the Internet with its 13 million U.S. visitors viewing 550 million pages in May, according to comScore Media Metrix. YouTube says 60,000 new videos are posted daily.
The site lets amateurs and professionals alike post video — many of them simply unedited footage from video-capable camera phones and digital cameras — and easily share them with the entire world for free.
To the chagrin of NBC Universal lawyers, some users also have posted copyright footage from television shows. YouTube has responded to requests to take down such footage. YouTube's deal with NBC commits that practice in writing, though there won't be any changes in procedures.
Under the deal, YouTube will create a separate channel for NBC video, so that visitors can easily pull up the half-dozen or more items that NBC plans to offer at any given time. It will be similar to channels that other companies, filmmakers and everyday users create.
NBC will sponsor a contest in which fans of "The Office" can create their own 20-second promotional clip — as long as they don't use any copyright footage from the show. NBC will provide music, graphics and a "how-to" video.
Little money will change hands, although NBC commits to buying an undisclosed amount of ads on YouTube. NBC also will run spots on television publicizing the contest.
NBC and YouTube officials acknowledged the possibility that fans will reject the clips if they appear simply as promotions, but YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley said fans would likely embrace the video if it is compelling and not available anywhere else.
NBC, a unit of General Electric Co., already makes full episodes of some already-broadcast shows available for sale for $1.99 through Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes online store. Miller said more than 6 million have been purchased since December.
Miller said the Sci-Fi Channel's "Battlestar Galactica," USA Network's "Monk," and sketches from "Saturday Night Live" have been among the most popular, while classics such as "Alfred Hitchcock Present" have not done as well.