NBC’s decision to pull its content from YouTube — in order to promote its upcoming Hulu video hut — is another blow to the sunshine paradigm in which visual entertainment is collected at one massively popular freebie destination.
Old media may seem dumb, but in the long run they’re not going to allow an indie to frolick with profits from their massive investments. Eventually, they assume, motivated viewers will seek out the content they want, wherever it’s posted, especially if it’s free. Grazers and samplers are collateral damage.
The effects of NBC Universal, News Corp., Viacom and other major media pulling back from YouTube include a clipping of the power that’s accrued so quickly to the user-driven video grab bag. The dark suits would like nothing more than to see YouTube reduced to nothing more than the home of Starwars Kid and foaming Pepsi fountains.
Let’s look at Google (which bought YouTube about this time last year). For better or worse, this college student startup only needed a half dozen years to became the default location for online concent searches. Its older and less imaginative competitors were reduced to fighting over search scaps. Google’s awesome power in the Internet world is of increasing concern as online content providers (including you, me and NBC) bow and scrape to keep its search engine happy. Google is about a half step away from a de facto monopoly.
No one in the media business is interested in seeing YouTube become to video what Google is to search.
NBC told YouTube on Friday that the content was coming down. An NBC Uni rep told newteevee.com that YouTube was merely a “promotional” service. NBC should know.
Here’s Wendy Davis of MediaPost on the love-hate history of NBC and YouTube:
The marks the latest wrinkle in a relationship that has had several ups and downs since YouTube launched. When the “Saturday Night Live” skit “Lazy Sunday” appeared on the video-sharing site in late 2005, the clip helped catapult the site to national prominence and also became a viral sensation. But the clip drew the wrath of NBC executives, who insisted that they wanted to stream it from their own site and, in February 2006, demanded that YouTube remove it.
Eventually, however, NBC not only settled its differences with YouTube, but forged a promotional agreement with the site, using it as a direct channel to viewers.
A YouTube statement noted the success of NBC’s promotional efforts there and hoped for more interaction down the road.
NBC recently wrassled with Apple over control and price of the network’s paid content, turning its attentions to Amazon’s Unbox.
So the network now has alienated the active youthful communities of iTunes and YouTube. Power plays are expensive in this day and age.