Video summarization is a challenging under-constrained problem because the underlying summary of a single video strongly depends on users’ subjective understandings. Data-driven approaches, such as deep neural networks, can deal with the ambiguity inherent in this task to some extent, but it is extremely expensive to acquire the temporal annotations of a large-scale video dataset. To leverage the plentiful web-crawled videos to improve the performance of video summarization, we present a generative modelling framework to learn the latent semantic video representations to bridge the benchmark data and web data. Specifically, our framework couples two important components: a variational autoencoder for learning the latent semantics from web videos, and an encoder-attention-decoder for saliency estimation of raw video and summary generation. A loss term to learn the semantic matching between the generated summaries and web videos is presented, and the overall framework is further formulated into a unified conditional variational encoder-decoder, called variational encoder-summarizer-decoder (VESD). Experiments conducted on the challenging datasets CoSum and TVSum demonstrate the superior performance of the proposed VESD to existing state-of-the-art methods. The source code of this work can be found at https://github.com/cssjcai/vesd.