Last week, Viacom pulled all its clips from YouTube (taking down some innocent bystanders along the way). Many of us felt this wasn't a particularly useful strategy, in that other broadcasters had begun to realize how useful YouTube is as a promotional vehicle. However, today reports are coming out that the reason Viacom did this was that it's about to launch its own video site that includes plenty of YouTube-like features, such as the ability to embed the content onto another website (such as someone's blog). That certainly does make the removal of clips from YouTube somewhat less painful, and may give more support to the idea that Viacom can do more if they manage the content itself -- but that might not necessarily be true. In hosting all the content itself, Viacom faces a few problems. First of all, now it needs to pay for bandwidth (and that can be pretty expensive). For all the talk from some about how YouTube gives nothing back to its users, people seem to forget how expensive it is to host your own videos. Second, it no longer has the audience that YouTube provides -- including the rabid commenters on certain videos that help get more viewers' attention. Viacom can certainly attract a lot of attention, but that's mostly existing fans. YouTube makes it easier to bring in new fans who were browsing other content on the site. While it does give Viacom more control, the company could have gotten the best of both worlds by leaving videos on YouTube, but making sure that the videos on its own site were better. Make them easier to embed. Put the clips up faster and at higher quality than some amateur recording. Add behind the scenes footage or even show longer clips that the 10 minute limit that YouTube has. In other words, there are ways they could compete, without having to yank all the clips off of YouTube and annoying everyone who had linked to or embedded older clips.
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