Can Viacom Build Its Own YouTube?

from the does-it-want-to? dept

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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    SteveHeadCase, Feb 9th, 2007 @ 4:44pm

    Here we go again... (Techdirt YouTube)

    Last week, when I suggested that Viacom was probably looking to protect the viability of its own advertising-supported video site, your buddy, Carlo, claimed that this was not the case.

    Now you seem to have realized that, in fact, this is what Viacom is doing. You may have even relaized that this is, most likely, what all major networks will try to do.

    Now consider the fact that the networks will, most likely, execute very poorly. They will attract less talented and imaginative designers and engineers. They will, despite their massive reach, create confusing brands. They will sell ads that interrupt the user experience, precisely at the time when they need to interfere as little as possible.

    So, given that, why would you say that having slightly poorer quality videos of their shows on a massively more popular site (YouTube) would drive users from that popular site to the less popular site (Viacom's.)

    This seems wildly improbable, and a stretch even for you guys.

     

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      Mike (profile), Feb 9th, 2007 @ 5:57pm

      Re: Here we go again... (Techdirt YouTube)

      Now consider the fact that the networks will, most likely, execute very poorly. They will attract less talented and imaginative designers and engineers. They will, despite their massive reach, create confusing brands. They will sell ads that interrupt the user experience, precisely at the time when they need to interfere as little as possible.

      All the more reason why they shouldn't ditch YouTube outright. If they can't make a better experience, and YouTube keeps beating them, it will only force Viacom to improve their offering.

      So, given that, why would you say that having slightly poorer quality videos of their shows on a massively more popular site (YouTube) would drive users from that popular site to the less popular site (Viacom's.)

      You misread what I said. I didn't say "slightly poorer quality videos." I said that Viacom would need to have a better overall experience (which includes a lot more than video quality). And, you also misunderstand the second part. I'm saying that YouTube can still be useful in attracting new audiences to shows -- and as they gain an audience, people will watch that show on TV and if they're looking for clips afterwards will go to the easiest place to get them -- which should be their own website if they do it right.

      If Viacom does it right, then why wouldn't people start going their first to get the clips? They'll be up faster and be better quality. And then it doesn't matter if YouTube has the clips as well. In fact, there will be much less incentive for others to upload the clips to YouTube, since they'll already be available at Viacom.

      All I'm saying is they could do all of this and not have to take the videos (and other people's videos) off of YouTube. They just need to compete well, and they can win. But if they compete poorly (as you suggest they're doing) then that's their fault for not creating a better user experience. And, that's fine. It'll put pressure on them to improve the experience, which will be the best situation for everyone.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2007 @ 5:45pm

    i know where the networks live

     

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    The adult in the house., Feb 9th, 2007 @ 6:29pm

    YouTube, the TubeSteak of video

    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.

    Oops... did someone violate your inalienable right to links that never break?

    Have you considered the fact that YouTube, with its horrible user interface and mish-mash of content, detracts from the value of Viacom's content? Seriously, as nicely useful as YouTube seems to be for teenage girls to post their pardoies of "Dick in a Box," it is not the first place I would go to look for quality media.

    YouTube only knows the technical end of presenting video on the net. They trade in content owned by others. As more content companies assert their rights to control their valuable assets, YouTube will be left with content worth the price they've paid for it.

     

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      Mike (profile), Feb 9th, 2007 @ 6:41pm

      Re: YouTube, the TubeSteak of video

      Oops... did someone violate your inalienable right to links that never break?

      No inalienable right, but doesn't it seem a little stupid to break the free promotion that lots of people are giving you? I mean, if they want to do that, it's their decision. Just seems dumb.

      Have you considered the fact that YouTube, with its horrible user interface and mish-mash of content, detracts from the value of Viacom's content?

      Considered it... and rejected it. Especially since others have pointed out how much being on YouTube has helped their content.

      Seriously, as nicely useful as YouTube seems to be for teenage girls to post their pardoies of "Dick in a Box," it is not the first place I would go to look for quality media.

      That's your call, but it seems like most others disagree.

      The problem here is your subjective use of the term "quality." First off, quality is different for different people, but just because some content you don't like is on the same site as other content, it doesn't detract from that other content. It's not a zero sum game, you know. The thing that YouTube has is a huge audience. Viacom would be smart to use that to its own advantage.

      YouTube only knows the technical end of presenting video on the net. They trade in content owned by others. As more content companies assert their rights to control their valuable assets, YouTube will be left with content worth the price they've paid for it.

      YouTube also has a huge community. Don't discount that. However, if YouTube becomes less valuable, people will go away. That's YouTube's problem. However, that doesn't explain why Viacom should block that promotional spigot for the time being.

       

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    ScytheNoire, Feb 10th, 2007 @ 1:03am

    corporate America loses again

    all i know is that Viacom's product will suck just as much as any other corporations product. i have yet to see any company offer pay content that is even close in quality to the illegal content. until they can offer 720p HD content for download, they will still be just pathetic jokes in the online content world.

    and ya, i know they won't be doing that, which is why illegal downloadable content (which is only illegal in America because they have some control fetish) will continue to reign supreme.

    damn corporate America is screwing things up

     

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    SteveHeadCase, Feb 10th, 2007 @ 4:36pm

    Responding to Mike (and Carlo, too, I guess)...

    Okay, so basically, Mike's point is that Viacom should not contest YouTube's distribution of its content because...um,... it will inspire Viacom employees to work harder to create a better product.

    Let's consider this, shall we?

    Let's say you're Viacom. Your stock price sucks, your employees are demoralized, you need to do something.

    You need to create a genuine profit-generating Web video destination.

    What will that requre? Three things:
    1. Great design and engineering.
    2. Tons of traffic to your content (as well as to amateur videos that folks who do like your brands will upload).
    3. Advertisers paying top dollar to be next to your content.

    What are your problems?

    1. It's hard to get great talent to work at your company when every video-interested engineer or designer in the world is flocking to businesses that 'borrow' your content. Of course, these start-ups, in addition to just being inherently more fun to work at, can also reward them with amazing payouts since they can 'borrow' rather than pay for the content they display.

    2. Users don't need to navigate your only slowly-improving website to get to your content because ... it's all on YouTube -- which is super-fast, well-designed and well-engineered. (Why? See #1.)

    3. Advertisers don't the value in paying top dollar to be near your content because a) you don't have lots of users (See #2) and b) they can buy adjacency to your content on other sites.

    This is a major problem.

    So what do you do?

    Do you use legal means to make your crappy websites the sole location where your content is distributed? Remember that this has the benefit of depleting the valuations of the businesses with whom you're competing for talent, luring the users who really do like your content (and maybe even getting them to upload their own stuff to your site), and convincing advertiers they need to buy from you. All of which convinces your boss, Mr. Redstone, that you shouldn't be immediately fired.

    Or do you, as Mike and the Web 2.0 ideologues at Techdirt recommend, continue to allow YouTube to 'borrow' and distribute your content.... because it will force your beleagured folks to compete harder?

     

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    Jooster, Feb 10th, 2007 @ 5:51pm

    plenty of ex MTV employees are working for Joost in management positions

     

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    eric, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 10:04am

    No. 8 message is SPAM

    Delete it.

    Sick of these gay spammers being paid by the Skype Aholes.

    bittorrent is KING right now. The $$$(skype,joost) aholes are going down.

     

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    gurll, Feb 27th, 2007 @ 4:15pm

    im highly upsett

    i`m soo upset about all this .
    you can`t just one day WAke up `& say 0h, youtube doesn't "deserve" my videoss. bullsh!t i`m pissed the fuck off & i hope viacom goes bank rupp . =]

     

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    Dave, May 7th, 2011 @ 9:42pm

    Viacom will be Viacom-centric

    You Tube has absolutely nothing to be concerned with if Viacom launches a competing site because Viacom's site will likely be completely Viacom-centric, promoting Viacom and CBS Corp networks and pretty much no one else. I would not be surprised if Viacom is taking advantage of HTML5 and CSS3 to attempt to launch a completely redesigned model designed to more easily integrate with third-party web sites or to provide a more interactive user experience than the current You Tube platform (perhaps a build-your-own video content for your web site using their clip drag and drop builder or something, which would in turn provide them with an endless resource for creative ideas for new shows, etc.); however, I seriously doubt that it would take You Tube very long to redesign their own site such that it will remain competitive and continue to serve a greatly broader user base than Viacom or any other communication corporation that launches it's own You Tube-like site to promote its own interests.

     

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