YouTube Cuts Deal With NHL to Show Game Clips Online

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Popular online video company YouTube Inc. on Wednesday said it would show short clips of National Hockey League games in its first agreement with a professional sports league.

YouTube, whose $1.65 billion purchase by Internet search leader Google Inc. (GOOG) closed on Tuesday, said its users would now be able to watch daily clips of two-to-five minutes in length from the NHL for the 2006-2007 season starting this month.

The agreement is the company's latest effort to devise legal ways of delivering copyrighted entertainment over the Internet.

YouTube said it is already in talks with other sports bodies for similar offering.

"We're having conversations with all the other professional leagues," said Kevin Donahue, YouTube vice president for content. "I hope we'll be able to announce similar deals with other leagues soon."

Under the deal, YouTube technology will help identify and remove illegally posted NHL clips as well as share revenue from advertising placed next to the content. The NHL will also have its own dedicated Web channel on the site.

A YouTube search on Wednesday for "NHL" or "hockey" brought up hundreds of clips from NHL games uploaded by users.

YouTube had previously signed deals with television network CBS Corp. (CBS) as well as music companies Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group (WMG) and Sony BMG.

Media executives and analysts say legal challenges over the use of copyrighted material are one of the greatest threats to YouTube's potential as an advertising and promotional vehicle.

Google said it is holding $200 million in escrow as security on certain unspecified indemnification obligations.

Begun in February 2005, YouTube now counts nearly 100 million daily views on its site.