One of the bigger stories of the day has been Viacom's decision to tell YouTube to yank 100,000 clips of its content from the site. Part of the background to this story is the traditional inability (or unwillingness) of entertainment companies to realize the promotional value of this type of content, and how it can drive users to their content in other, monetizable formats. One of the persistent sentiments in the comments to the Viacom story, phrased in different ways, seems to be that by having these clips on YouTube, there's no way for Viacom to "profit" from online content, but that's simply not the case (if for no other reason than there's nothing saying that only one party can profit in this situation). Check out this seemingly unrelated story about how NBC's figuring out that making its shows available online is a good thing, and the advertisements it puts around shows on its site are very effective. This, of course, is despite NBC putting content of its shows on YouTube. Why would it do such a crazy thing? Because it realizes that the YouTube clips have promotional value that drives viewers to its broadcast network or its own site to watch full-length shows, where it can monetize them. It offers users a different, and in some ways better, experience than YouTube does -- for instance, they can see full-length shows, and often at higher quality. NBC is making its content more accessible to users, both by putting it online, but also by using YouTube to promote it. That's how networks can "profit" from the likes of YouTube: because it's really not competition for their own products, it's promotion for them. Add that promotion to increased accessibility and availability of those products, and you might have the beginnings of a reasonable new-media strategy.
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