Posts about youtube

The NBC/Fox gigadeal on video

Just as it was to be announced, I learned about what could be an extraordinary deal between NBC and Fox to go a different way from Viacom in their relationship with online video.

The two networks/studios are creating a new company to distribute TV on the sites where large audiences already are: AOL, MySpace, Yahoo, MSN. All their entertainment video and some of their movies will be available there for people to embed in their own pages. This means that a MySpace user who’s an Office fan could put up a widget allowing her readers to watch the clips and even the shows on her page. The joint venture will create a destination site for all this, but this isn’t a portal play; it’s about finding a tolerable — for them — way to distribute content via fans’ sites.

I’m told that it’s likely this video also may be made available for embedding on lowly blogs such as this — and obviously, I think that will be key. You make the popcorn, and let’s get together to watch American Idol on IdolCritic, eh? I doubt that will come on the first day (and that first day, by the way, is about 100 days away).

The new company will also sell ads and will share revenue with the producers and with the distribution sites (whether that will trickle down to the actual users/distributors, I have no idea; I would imagine that would be up to each of the sites and if they are smart enough to share, then the distribution of this video will only expand and explode).

There’s no reason this arrangement cannot include other producers, networks, and studios. And there is no reason this cannot include other distribution points (read: Google/Yahoo and such). And though this starts with entertainment, I don’t see why it can’t expand to include news and sports. It should.

What’s smart about this is that it potentially provides an infrastructure for the viral, audience-controlled recommendation and distribution of video with the two elements the producers demand — control and monetization (mantras I heard from the big guys at the Video on the Net conference). If this makes this kind of viral distribution profitable, it will cut off objections to it. And that, I believe, will leave Viacom out there dangling naked on Main Street.

At first, the big guys will pick their own clips. I think they have to get quickly past and let us pick the clips, the moments we want to recommend and comment on. Every moment in a show should thus have a permalink that makes it a linkable part of conversations. At VON, I saw a company called Gotoit that enables just this: you can send people directly to that moment you want to talk about. That is vital: We, the people — not the producers, prorammers, and network execs — need to be the recommenders, not the producers; that’s the point of viral distribution

At first, this will also be about just the big guys’ shows and movies. As you can predict, I argue that if they want this to succeed, it also must include small TV, our TV, the TV we are reinventing. That doesn’t mean that they should air all the flaming farts. But the smart things to do will be to find the great new talent and give it a means of distribution and control and monetization — which the little guys want, like the big guys, a point made at the end of my VON spiel. And then the networks will like networks.

I don’t know what this means for NBBC, the very tightly controlled venture NBC started to distribute video. I suspect it will be involved.

If this is done right, it makes viral distribution of video a noninfringing activity. It will legitimize, enable, and exploit what we already want to do: recommend and watch their shows. That would only be smart.

If it is done wrong — if the networks try to maintain too much control and still tell us what to llike and where we can watch TV — then it will fail miserably. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this.

From the Wall Street Journal story:

“This is a game changer for Internet video,” News Corp. President Peter Chernin said in a statement announcing the venture. “We’ll have access to just about the entire U.S. Internet audience at launch.”

The venture will also start its own site, with a name that is yet to be announced, which will go up in the summer. The two companies said “full episodes and clips from current hit shows,” including NBC’s “Heroes,” “My Name is Earl,” “Saturday Night Live” and Fox’s “24,” “House,” “Prison Break” and “The Simpson”s will be available as well as programs from the companies’ TV libraries. Movies will also be available, including “Borat” and “Little Miss Sunshine.”

Here’s the LA Times report.

: LATER: I think some reporters are missing a key part of the story. I think this is less NBC/Fox v. Google in business and more NBC/Fox v. Viacom in philosophy. These guys, unlike Viacom, recognize the power — and the necessity — of the recommendation engine (aka us) as the new means of marketing and distribution. They are trying to do that in a way that feels safer to them and that they can make money on — echoing, once again, the themes I kept hearing from the big guys at VON: control and monetization. If they crack the monetization, then these guys will care (a bit) less about control.

They will succeed if they enable us to recommend, share, and talk about (positively or negatively) their good stuff.

They will blow it if they try to maintain too much control: if they give us only their shows, if they insist on which clips we can embed, if they don’t open up to more programming, if they don’t open up to our putting this stuff in our space (not just Rupert’s MySpace). So we’ll see.

But it’s all about the recommendation engine as the new network.

Demonizing us

I’ve been reading Viacom’s boneheaded $1 billion complaint against YouTube. Viacom complains about YouTube but, in truth, they’re complaining about their own viewers. They whine about theft but, in fact, they’re whining about recommendation, about their audience finding them more audience. Viacom is trying, singlehandedly, to turn the TV industry into the music industry. They are trying to spread stupid. From the complaint, notice what they’re really complaining about is their fans (my emphases):

Defendants actively engage in, promote and induce this infringement. YouTube itself publicly performs the infringing videos on the YouTube site and other websites. Thus, YouTube does not simply enable massive infringement by its users. . . .

Because YouTube directly profits from the availability of popular infringing works on its site, it has decided to shift the burden entirely onto copyright owners to monitor the YouTube site on a daily or hourly basis to detect infringing videos and send notices to YouTube demanding that it “take down” the infringing works.

Uh, their complaint there is with the law.

In the meantime, YouTube profits handsomely from the presence of the infringing works on its site.

Not yet.

And even after it receives a notice from a copyright owner, in many instances the very same infringing video remains on YouTube because it was uploaded by at least one other user, or appears on YouTube again within hours of its removal. YouTube has deliberately chosen this approach because it allows YouTube to profit from infringement while leaving copyright owners insufficient means to prevent it.

I’ll requote the guy from Morgan Stanley below: You can’t obstruct markets. You have to anticipate them. You need to go with the flow.

At last week’s Online Publishers Association, Betsy Morgan of CBSNews.com, said that when an infringing clip goes up on YouTube, they take it down and then replace it with a noninfringing, official copy, which has the added benefit of enabling the conversation to cluster around one rather than many copies of the same event. That’s smart. I guess when Viacom and CBS split up, CBS got the IQ.

OPA: Jeff Rayport and video

I’m at the Online Publishers Association confab in London and Jeff Rayport is leading off. He is a former Harvard Business School genius (former HBS, still a genius) now leading a consultancy called Marketspace. I’m taking extensive notes because he’s sure to be provocative and this will be on the final. From his Powerpoint and spiel:

He says the challenge for online publishers is to “build volume through aggregation and margin through engagement.” Trends:

* “Community is the new engine of content creation,” his PowerPoint says. I’d day that content is the gas of the community engine.

* “Social networks are the new distribution channels.”

* “Social intelligence is the new source of editorial filters.”

* Tools and applications are the new editorial bundles.”

* “Multiplatform is the new basis of online ‘publishing.’ ”

* “Video is the new lingua franca of online content”

Now to the strategies he recommends. Note how big-company-centric they are (I argue that you have to see yourself not at the center but at the edges, serving the community at the center, but more on that later). Powerpoint quotes:

* “Own the audience: Overwhlem the microcosm. Deliver shock and awe in content abundance by geography, interest, or identity.” Where do I start? We’re not an audience and you can’t own us. And you likely can’t awe us either. His example is Toyota’s launch of Scion because they are selling cars “designed to be completed by the owner.” Or I’d say, owned by the owner. He says this was the first major auto brand launched with no television but with web and interactive media. Online, his examples include the knot for “condition” (“it touched 85 percent of weddings” last year), femail for identity from the Daily Mail in the UK, xionet.com (a Chinese Facebook, the second-largest social network in the world after MySpace) for location, bebo for interest (a MySpace up-and-comer in the UK). He says that online, “audience growth is often strongest where community is most palpable” — e.g., The Economist, The New Yorker. He’s not wrong but I still say he’s looking at this the wrong way. These things an help enable people to do what they want to do or to do what they already do better. Flip the model: You’re not at the center, we are.

* “Claim the community: Ensure membership has its rewards. Forge communities of conviction and reward loyalty.” His example is online travel and “gives us cause for great hope for claiming the relationship.” In content, he argues that free content “drives volume or traffic” while bundles of proprietary offerings “defy aggregation;” he uses Times Select as an example because it “drives pricing power.” Insert standard argument here.

* “Work the web: Let the outside in… and let the inside out. Adopt ‘open source’ thinking as an aggregator while exploiting network effects. This, he says, is the network effect. Letting the outside out is Progressive Insurance providing quotes from other insurers. Letting the outside in is Starbucks pushing into consumer environments (aka grocery stores) instead of just pulling them into destinations (the Starbucks store). Sure. This is about a newspaper providing links to the world and about going to where the people are. This is Google. Citizen journalism is letting the outside in. He says the more interesting story this year is citizen editing. Yup. Factoid: “up to 60 percent of YouTube’s streams are viewed on third-party websites.”

* “Design for occasion: Make each interaction a divine revelation. Customize online content interfaces for consumption contexts and occasions.” He says that Daily Candy is an example of form-factor optimization. Oh, my, that’s a fancy way to say it. But yes. Factoid: Daily Candy commands CPMs as high as $280 and is on track to generate $18 million in revenue in 2006 with margins over 60 percent.

* “Integrate the experience: mandate a unified field theory. Orchestrate multichannel delivery to establish best ecosystem.” Example: American Idol spreads internationally and into mobile and the internet and merchandise and concerts. Being a former business school academic, he draws a two-by-two martric: Amateurs acting like amateurs (e.g., Numa Numa guy), professionals acting like amateurs (e.g., LonelyGirl15), amateurs acting like professionals (ZeFrank, AskaNinja), professionals acting like professionals (e.g., OK Go, Beppe Grillo, and, surprise, me at PrezVid).

He has five strategies, “x factors” for online video (from Andrew Heyward).

* Extend content you have and bring it to online media.

* Expand video activities to make new and experimental forms of content.

* Expose (let the outside in; e.g., NY Times wedding videos, Le Monde user videos).

* Explode (let the inside out; syndication, in other words).

* Exhale (you don’t know what will work so relax).

There’s a lot of meat in this. I might grill some of what he fries, looking at things from a different perspective (ours v. theirs), but I think he brings together important observations, conclusions, and recommendations.

Discuss.

* * *

Next is a panel with Betsy Morgan of CBSNews.com, George Kliavkoff of NBCU, Alberg Cheng of Disney-ABC, and Tony Ageh of BBC internet with Larry Kramer moderating.

Betsy says that they are sold out in video advertising and that’s why they are syndicating their content to get more inventory. Kliavkoff, who extolled the virtues of marketing by putting clips on YouTube (yea), says that CPMs are high for online video but there is a shortage of quality inventory. He argues against the dreaded “user-generated content” usage saying that Spielberg is a user, too. He says the lesson of YouTube is that it doesn’t matter whether it’s amateur or professional; quality wins (I agree in spirit but in specific, it’s hard to judge the quality of a flaming fart and so quality is what you have to seek and find).

Betsy tells the story of her sister-in-law, who got Direct TV and made an either-or decision: TV or internet. She chose internet and she’s now watching her TV via the internet, including paying for shows via iTunes etc. See yesterday’s post about the end of the remote control clickers.

George says that an SEO company trying out for a gig with NBCU made measurements on the sly, looking at blog talk about shows from five weeks before they launched and then compared the ratings five weeks later. No surprise (to us): We the people formelry known as the audience (now known as the programmers) predicted that Heroes was a hit and that other shows would not be hits.

I asked the group to give advice to the makers of new TV at the Video on the Net conference I’ll be attending in a week and a half. Betsy said they are seeing “microjournalists” who are expert and credible and they’d like a relationship (promotional and commercial) with them but also need a trust system to help determine who is good (a system used by the public, not the network). George advised focus (serve a topic and stay on topic) and scale (get distributed). Larry advised aggregation, putting together shows/sites in networks large enough to be worth advertisers’ effort.

BBC on YouTube

The embargo just came off a BBC announcement that they’re putting video on YouTube to reach more audience, worldwide. “YouTube is a key gateway through which to engage new audiences in the UK and abroad,” BBC Director-General Mark Thompson said in the release. “It’s essential that the BBC embraces new ways of reaching wider audiences with non-exclusive partnerships such as these.” Smart, those Brits.

The BBC will put up clips of new shows and promotional stuff about such stalwarts as Doctor Who. BBC Worldwide — which, as a for-profit division will take advertising — will show clips from Top Gear, Spooks, shows with David Attenborough, and more. And BBC Global News will provide 30 news clips a day, also ad-supported (and available only to us ferners). From the release: “Users will be able to comment on clips, rate them, recommend them to friends and post their own video responses to communicate with the BBC and other viewers.”

I’ll link to articles when they make it online.

:LATER: Here‘s Media Guardian’s coverage.

If I were the Oscars (or Viacom)

If I had the Oscars or Viacom — both of whom pulled their clips off YouTube — here’s what I’d do to deal with — no, to exploit and profit from — the inevitable trend toward your audience promoting and distributing your content:

The first goal is to get the audience to pick and recommend your best stuff. That’s free promotion.

The second goal is to make money from advertising, either on the clips themselves or on the pages and videos people come to because they saw the clips.

So I’d work with YouTube et al on new Motionbox-like functionality (which I hear Bright Cove has, too) to enable viewers to pick out segments in the middle of video. And then I’d let them to post those segments on any of the sharing services that enable me to attach ads and make money. So say the Oscars are up at Oscars.com and you can watch them there — and earn the Academy and the network more ad revenue with every click. Say that you can snip and post any two minutes up on YouTube with a click of a mouse. If the clip is already there, it takes you there and registers that you’ve recommended the same thing as someone before you and lets you comment to join in the conversation around the clip (“Can you believe Ellen’s pantsuit?”); having just one version of the clip will lead to better conversation and community. The clip carries my advertising. The video services let me keep my revenue and they report stats to me on viewership. They also promote the clips: “Watch the most popular Oscar moments!” And when people discover those clips on YouTube, etc., they’re pushed back to Oscars.com to see the show — starting with where the clip left off. And I make money showing them advertising there.

What’s not to love? I get free promotion — from my customers! I get free hosting from the service. I get incremental ad revenue both on the clips and on my show. If I have obscure cable shows at odd hours with small audiences (cough! Viacom), I get new audience discovering me. I get branding.

See, that’s the way to exploit and enjoy what’s happening in video anyway. That’s the way to go with teh flow and find new cash flow. Sitting and whining and taking your marbles and going home doesn’t earn you new money and doesn’t endear you to your customers and doesn’t save you marketing money. It just makes you look like an old dolt. And remember: In the post-scarcity media economy, there’s always something else to watch.

That’s what I would do.

: MORE: Here’s what Mark Cuban would do: He’d flood YouTube with tiny clips to harass the viewers there. That’s one helluva way to treat your fans. Does he also serve warm beer at basketball games? Dave Winer suggests:

What if, instead, Viacom told YouTube that they could host clips from their shows, but reserved the hi-rez versions for themselves, and maybe they could have negotiated a link from the YouTube low-rez scan to the one served on their site. Anything would be better than the fractured world that’s being re-created now. Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if users knew they just had to go to YouTube to find what they’re looking for, knowing that it would lead them to a purchasing experience if they want one.

It seems the entertainment industry doesn’t recognize the power of its users. They’re accustomed to dealing with artists and other companies, esp really large ones, but they haven’t learned how to negotiate with the users, and that’s who they have to deal with, if they want a future.

Let’s repeat that: “The entertainment industry doesn’t recognize the power of its users.” Amen, brother.

And Om Malik mocks them:

Instead of being glad that people (the same people who pay for their over the top lifestyles by watching movies) wanted to see some of the clips, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences today asked YouTube to remove the clips.

Don’t they realize that these clips are like milk left on the counter top for too long, and will go sour soon? Don’t they realize that in this era when people are short on time, the three-hour overproduced crap that passes off as the Oscars broadcast is not needed?

Why blame the people for putting short clips on YouTube, and why take them down now? The question is why didn’t either the Academy or ABC offer the clips themselves – thus losing out on potential advertising dollars? Why not work with YouTube and give people what they want?

Preach it.

Meanwhile, at PrezVid

Some new posts of note over at my PrezVid vlog/blog:

* My interview with Loic Le Meur, adviser and vlogger for conservative French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, about the amazing video action happening in the campaign over there. For all the attention American candidates are getting in our YouTube election, the video scene in France’s election is far ahead, moreso on Sarkozy’s site than on that of his liberal opponent, Segolene Royal (you supply the accents, please).

* John Edwards tells WNYC’s Brian Lehrer that this is, indeed, the YouTube election … and he’s not bothered by all the hair jokes.

* Watch Hillary at Google.

60 Seconds

Don Hewitt is ready for his second act: an online-only show filled with the commentary of the YouTube generation. Very impressive.

“I know that this is an age group that does not watch television,” Hewitt said. “They are not interested. I figure that’s because they are bent over a computer all the time. I figure, maybe the way to reach them is the Internet.” . . .

And although the technical requirements for submission are low-budget–even cell phone camera footage is OK, so long as the sound is clean–the storytelling vision is pure Hewitt.

“If you’re interviewing others, make sure they are interesting,” reads the email. “Strong characters can save a weak story. Weak characters can sink the strongest of stories. Cast your story with people whose personas make you pay attention. . . . people who are forceful, animated, quirky, whatever . . . you’ll know it when you see it.”

See ya

Well, one way to look at the networks playing hardball and leaving YouTube is that there’s that much attention left for the rest of us who are making small TV.