With Viacom suing
Google for a billion dollars, claiming massive losses due to people watching its shows at YouTube rather than on TV, it certainly seems worth asking whether or not YouTube actually represents a loss to Viacom. Luckily, that's just the type of question economists like to dig in on -- and a new study basically finds that Viacom is almost certainly overreacting
, and potentially harming itself in trying to kill YouTube. What the study found was that while there is a small decrease in how much time people spend in front of a TV if they're watching videos online, they end up watching a lot more overall programming. That is, the decrease is made up and more (a lot more) online. And, in other ways, it may be helping increase TV viewership, as someone who watches a show online becomes a lot more likely to watch that show on TV as well -- simply switching back and forth between whichever media is more preferable at the time. In other words (and this shouldn't come as a surprise) those clips on the web help promote the TV series that are available and help build up new loyal viewers... and all of these promotions come without the company having to pay a dime for the promotion. And that's what Viacom is suing over? People helping to promote their shows? Admittedly, the study only focuses on college kids, who may not be a representative sample of the wider US -- but given the core demographic most TV shows are going after (and the folks Viacom is most worried about losing to the web), this study certainly suggests Viacom is totally wrong
about yet another thing.