NBC, Newscorp try to create YouTube rival

The blogosphere has been buzzing with the news that NBC and Newscorp have announced a new "YouTube Killer". Here are some more details from the official press release:

News Corporation and NBC Universal will launch the largest Internet video distribution network ever assembled with the most sought-after content from television and film, it was announced today by Jeff Zucker, President and Chief Executive Officer, NBC Universal and Peter Chernin, President and Chief Operating Officer, News Corporation. The video-rich site will debut this summer with thousands of hours of full-length programming, movies and clips, representing premium content from at least a dozen networks and two major film studios.

My take – Stupid is as stupid does. This latest news from the two media giants is much ado about nothing. For starters, the site doesn’t even have a name nor does it launch until summer and here’s a glaring contradiction,

By delivering the new site’s content to our more than 65 million users, we can build on MySpace’s position as a leading destination for online video, and enable content creators to tap into the power of social networking,” said Peter Levinsohn, President of Fox Interactive Media.

Newscorp’s plan is to position MySpace as the leading destination for online video while NBC’s vision is launching a site where they can host all their copyrighted content. So which one is it? A separate stand alone site or a YouSpace? In the short term, the two foes may unite to fight a common rival, but it remains to be seen how long this unity lasts and when bickering over revenue-sharing starts.

Michael Arrington of Techcrunch says,

I think this will get a crazy amount of attention, then probably launch very late. Joint ventures are notoriously difficult to manage, and adding third party distribution partners to the mix will add complexity. And of course the technology needs to work, and these companies are not now for building web based applications.

Owen Thomas of Business 2.0 raises a very good point,

It’s been shown time and again that more choices confuse consumers, and it’s not like users are somehow liberated by the presence of a video on multiple websites. If anything, this proliferation of duplicative copies will just send people to search engines like Google Video.

Some of the ‘premium’ content they are referring to, is already available on their sites currently. How is this any different?  Why would anyone want to go to half-dozen different sites for the same content, when it could have bee easily available at one site already?

When Viacom yanked their prized clips and sued YouTube, the big media supporters cheered and predicted the doom of YouTube. Their theory (and the reasoning behind Viacom’s subsequent suit) is that YouTube’s popularity is direct result of these popular shows. If that’s true, what I haven’t seen explained is why these folks don’t just go to the NBC or Comedy Central site to look at the clips? Why is YouTube still more popular that the actual show sites? NewTeeVee says,

According to research from the fine folks at Hitwise, YouTube visits are up 14 percent since Viacom’s cease-and-desist order, showing that maybe it’s not just people watching Daily Show and Colbert clips after all. Who needs that Audible Magic stuff, anyway?

YouTube-haters are missing the big picture, the reason for YouTube’s popularity is that it is the ultimate social collaborative platform. YouTube has allowed social aggregation of popular content, where folks shared clips that they liked with their friends, who in turn passed it on to their friends, thereby creating more buzz than money can ever buy. Moreover, it allowed content-creators to ‘stick it" to the establishment ie. the big media companies and that’s what makes it even more popular. The fact, that your home-created video can be shared by millions without any bureaucratic hoop-jumping, is a huge deal.

YouTube is more than just a site for pirated shows or crazy stunts video, just like the Web 2.0 revolution is more than just a bunch of geeky tools that any one with half-a-brain can tinker with and call it a social network. It’s a paradigm shift in the way content is created and distributed.

While the media giants scheme and plot, Google has quietly been signing deals with smaller content producers. Industry analysts say,

Industry analysts say in the Times that it is far easier for YouTube to persuade small media companies to license their content than it is to get NBC or Viacom Inc., two of Google’s vocal critics, to give up control of their most-prized content and the advertising revenue associated with it.

Whether you hate YouTube/Google or love it, at end of the day, the consumer is the winner. YouTube has forced the old media companies to open up and start sharing content. How many folks actually think that without YouTube’s overwhelming popularity, NBC and its homies were going to host a site specially to share their prized content and that too, free? Yeah, right!

In the end, it doesn’t matter if you love or hate YouTube, I think competition is healthy for the industry and creates a win-win situation for everyone, especially the consumers.

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