UK broadcaster Channel 4 has signed a deal with YouTube to bring full TV programmes online, streamed for free. It's the first time that any broadcaster in the world has made such a comprehensive schedule of 'catch-up' programming available for free via YouTube.

Of course, when I say free I mean ad-supported but that's only to be expected. With YouTube now serving some one billion video streams a day, it makes commercial sense to increase your advertising reach in this way. Financial terms are not being disclosed, but the partnership runs for an initial term of at least three years on a shared revenue basis. We do know, however, that the deal is non-exclusive, allowing Channel 4 to continue distributing its 4oD service via its own website and other third party sites.

According to the press release from Oliver Rickman, manager for Google UK Communications and Public Affairs, the terms of the deal mean that "Channel 4 will make its 4oD video-on-demand ‘catch-up’ service of new programmes available via YouTube shortly after television transmission, including series that have already proved particularly popular with online audiences such as Skins, Hollyoaks, The Inbetweeners and Peep Show".

As well as that, YouTube users will also be able to access around 3,000 hours of full length programming from the Channel 4 archive at any given time, including shows like Brass Eye, Derren Brown, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, Teachers to name but a few.

Although the service will not be available in full until early next year, content is expected to start dribbling through in the coming weeks and months.

Andy Duncan, Channel 4’s Chief Executive, said: “Channel 4 was the first broadcaster anywhere in the world to make all its commissioned content available online and we’ve consistently pioneered in this field. This strategic partnership is another important milestone for us and we’re delighted to be combining the power of the ‘4’ brand and the appeal of our content with YouTube’s unrivalled reach and reputation online. Making our programmes directly accessible to YouTube’s 20 million UK users will financially benefit both Channel 4 and our independent production partners and help bolster our investment in quality British content. It demonstrates our ability to strike dynamic commercial partnerships to help underpin our future as a commercially funded, not-for-profit multi-platform public service network.”

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About the Author

A freelance technology journalist for 30 years, I have been a Contributing Editor at PC Pro (one of the best selling computer magazines in the UK) for most of them. As well as currently contributing to Forbes.com, The Times and Sunday Times via Raconteur Special Reports, SC Magazine UK, Digital Health, IT Pro and Infosecurity Magazine, I am also something of a prolific author. My last book, Being Virtual: Who You Really are Online, which was published in 2008 as part of the Science Museum TechKnow Series by John Wiley & Sons. I am also the only three times winner (2006, 2008, 2010) of the BT Information Security Journalist of the Year title, and was humbled to be presented with the ‘Enigma Award’ for a ‘lifetime contribution to information security journalism’ in 2011 despite my life being far from over...

Wow - that's pretty cool.. and very smart of Ch. 4... should prove to be huge for their distribution and branding. More public networks should and will do this..