Lately, we've seen a spate of deals whereby media companies are trying to "get user-generated video", as in grab a slice of the online video market in whatever way they can. What we've seen less of are companies "getting" user-generated video in terms of actually understanding what makes the market tick, and why people like it. Recently, we discussed a story that YouTube was in some sort of talks with Verizon Wireless to provide exclusive access to subscribers of the company's mobile and TV services. We noted that a deal like that didn't make much sense from YouTube's standpoint. Sure it would garner some quick cash today (something it hardly needs now that it's part of Google), but it seemed to violate what made YouTube successful. It would be as though the site only worked on one broadband ISP. Today the deal was officially announced, and it turns out it's only exclusive for a short period of time, which is good for YouTube. From Verizon Wireless' perspective, it's hoping that access to the site will make its VCast service more appealing. VCast is the company's data service that limits customers' choices to those sites that the company hand selects. But the deal seems to be missing what it is that makes the service popular. It's only going to offer a limited number of hand-selected videos, as opposed to the long tail of content that makes the service what it is. Thats like only getting to watch the featured videos on YouTube's front page. Of course, you'd expect a company that hand selects what services its customers are allowed to use to also specify which videos they're allowed to watch on them. It almost feels silly to repeat the argument that mobile companies would be a lot better off if they just opened up their services and allowed customers to access the things they wanted. At least it seems like this argument is starting to catch on. Washington Post tech columnist Rob Pegoraro also dishes on the deal, arguing much the same thing. People don't like walled gardens, and over the long run, exclusive deals always lose out to offerings that allow the consumer to choose. Companies that have the mentality that they can just offer up "the best", whether it's the best sites, or the best content on those sites, will always be behind online, because it's the nature of these services that consumers that are deciding what's popular, and not waiting for it to be spoonfed to them. Of course, Verizon would probably just respond by saying that those who make this argument just doesn't get capitalism, but it seems like Verizon Wireless doesn't get its users, and it's users who drive capitalism (and pay the bills).
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