Would You Rather Own NBC Or Google?

from the just-wondering dept

For all the complaining about how the TV business is in trouble, NBC’s president, Jeff Zucker, is apparently trying to convince the world that traditional media companies like NBC and Viacom have a better business model than Google. He’s quoted as saying: “Google was built on the power of math and algorithms. NBC is built on brilliant programming. Both are compelling models, but I don’t think Google’s model is as powerful as Viacom [and other media companies] as the market would have you believe.” This seems like an odd comparison, and ignores Google’s place in the media world as well. While there is something to be said for the value of programming, it ignores why something like Google is useful. They represent two different models that aren’t at all mutually exclusive. While NBC may add value by “programming” content, Google doesn’t have all that overhead, and is simply organizing content for people to find. It also seems that NBC’s model is a lot riskier, as its success is almost entirely dependent on how good those few “programmers” at the top are in the fickle world of entertainment. Google, on the other hand, works as more of a bottom up approach. Whatever people are interested in, they’re already able to handle it. The difference is that, while NBC’s media model is programmed from the top, Google’s is programmed by everyone who uses it.

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Comments on “Would You Rather Own NBC Or Google?”

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Steve E (user link) says:

Personally I’d have either of them if offered 🙂 But I disagree, the business model of a Google is just as compelling as a Viacom. I think Viacom are probably a little worried by the power of internet monsters and worrying about how they can compete and get themselves as well known (with the general populous). I’m sure Google is more of a household name worldwide than Viacom!

AC says:

Re: A penny a search

“then charge for every search…. a penny auta do it :)”

You go ahead and do that, you would lose a decent amount of your userbase almost instantly. Not nescessarily because people mind paying the 1 cent, but because they don’t feel like putting in their billing information right at the time so they’ll go for another free search engine and over time they’ll realize hey this one is finding me what I want too.

I’m glad you will never get google, because you would kill it.

NBC Fan says:

Re: What an idiot...

It’s the same business model, both provide something for free that many people want (Google : Good search engine to find info they want and NBC : Entertainment) and they through in advertisements as their primary source of revenue.

So which is better? Well, right now Google is better, but only because it is dominant in its industry of paid search. But that can change very quickly in the online world, due to the relatively low barriers to entry. Quite frankly, due to the industry cleverly calling itself “search engine optimization” (which should be more accurately described as search engine manipulation) Google’s product is just not that good. There just aren’t a lot of better alternatives right now, but there surely will be. Maybe from Google, or Microsoft, or Yahoo, or some kid tinkering around with a computer.

In the case of NBC, there are huge barriers to entry and it would take so much money to create serious additional competition that few are willing to make such an investment. Despite Cable and even internet broadcasting, the four major networks and their affiliates own great bulk of the public airways which is a foundation of the networks. No matter how much money you have, you can’t just walk into the FCC and get a license for a TV station.

Ignoring present valuations, I would take NBC over Google any day.

ScytheNoire says:

what the hell quality programming is he talking about that appears on NBC? have they watched their crap lately? heck, the fact that Google doesn’t have to bow to the FCC alone puts them ahead.

i have honestly been finding that i get more entertainment out of a half hour on YouTube or GoogleVideo than i’ve gotten from a network sitcom since Seinfeld went off the air.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The fact that you’d prefer to spend time on YouTube wasn’t enough of a clue to not being part of NBC’s target audiance? This obviously isn’t the fourm to get an objective idea of what the majority of society wants.

NBC’s audiance is much wider (in the US at least) than any one internet company – I bet more people have a TV than have internet access (that’s an assumption of couse as I’m too lazy to look up the stats – bite me, I’m on a lunch break).

Sanguine Dream says:

Maybe Google is better...

becuase they don’t spend millions trying to get me to watch “reality” on tv. It might be because google isn’t trying to force us to watch ads. Could be that google isn’t trying to create the instant hit to take the places of Seinfeld, Fraiser, Friends, and Will & Grace. I’ve been displeased with NBC for a while now. The four shows I just listed were comedy crutches for that network and they have just now started to rebuild the success of them (namely My Name is Earl). It would have been nice if Commited wasn’t cancelled…

ivysport (user link) says:

ignorant comment

Jeff Zucker’s comparing NBC to Google is idiotic. If we were comparing the NBC of 1970 to the Google of today, there might be a comparison. However, the NBC of today is a waning network besieged with increasing programming and media choices and becoming irrelevant. Google has achieved the unthinkable, becoming (arguably) the operating system of the Internet.

I’ll take NBC over AltaVista, but Google?……please

Rick Hanley says:

NBC, Google

Whose stock is fundamentally better priced in the market, NBC or Google?

Why is it that 90% of journalists don’t understand this question?

The sell side analysts should be dragged out and beaten when the stock price that they keep afloat on darling stocks comes crashing down to earth.

Snapple at 40. Netscape at 75. Amazon at 113. etc. Who’s kidding who when Google is carrying a market cap of $122 billion?

Fiftysomething View (profile) says:

NBC - brilliant programming?

If you’re finding brilliant programming on television, you must have channels than I’m not getting on Dish. News, sports, sitcoms, cop shows, sappy dramas targeted to push the boundaries of “how much sex can we show on TV?”, and talking heads on Sunday. These worn out themes have been used on TV for over 40 years.

Where’s the “brilliance” — reality shows? Give me a break.

And what does Google have to offer other than petty distractions for the world’s white collar workforce.

These are the choices? Poor Viacom.

Anonymous Coward says:

Investors and Wall Street compare companies in different industries every day. If you invest, so do you. Do you put your money in Google stock or Viacom stock? Two different industries, yet they still compete for your investment dollar.

As for who wins, Viacom might have the edge over Google, as the value is in the content, not the search for the content. Viacom should be offering their content available for download, they could do that in a deal with Google, but would probably make more sense to deal with the transports, or the pipe owners like cable (which they do now) or telecom companies. Let the transport companies handle the billing, just like they do for 900 numbers. Google really can’t do that now, as they don’t have the billing systems or relationships with their “customers” that would facilitate that.

Course, thats if anyone would want to download any of the content Viacom has to offer.

Me says:

Take a look at the right of this page

To add insult to injury, this site has google ads showing on the right hand side.

As people get more and more tech savy, I think Viacom business model is in deep trouble. How long before Google starts offering shows on its site. Seems like an obvious one to me. They own the advertiser and the traffic…all they do all day is think up new ways of monetizing it.

My money is on Google!

u no says:

Google Google

As a college student I spend a lot of time on the internet. There is a TV in my dorm room, but it is rarely on since my room mate and i have different tastes in television. Due to that I maybe tune into NBC once or twice a week, if they are lucky. Google on the other hand gets used hundreds of times a week by both my room mate and I, with our different tastes. I would take Google over NBC anyday of the week.

Lay Person says:


Viacom sucks!

It’s a large media conglomerate that doesn’t knoiw its head from its asshole! All it’s interested in is getting over on people and making a profit regardless of how it’s achieved!

Google…well its, first, a search engine and, second, a web based provider of sorts.

How can he even compare the two? Google at the very least provides a valuable component. What does Viacom offer?…Nothing.

What is the comparison? Yeah apples are apples and oranges are oranges…O.K. thy’re both fruit…similarity ends there.

Oh yeah they’re both corporations…whoopie!

FM says:

Follow the money

The reason why Zucker made the comparison is because they both get their revenues from the same place: advertisers. He knows that the advertising dollars are going to the web and away from TV because people are spending more time in front of the web and less watching TV. Also, TV is starting to enter a crisis mode as the penetration of DVR’s continue to increase. I purposely start watching TV 20 minutes after my favorite programs start so I can skip the commercials. Nielsen has started adding programs watched within 7 days to the ratings and advertisers are complaining. Why would they want to pay for commercials that no one wants? I don’t know what the TV industry will look like in 5 years, but their revenue model is drying up. That’s why they are buying web companies: they see the writing on the wall.

Google, no contest.

Duodave (user link) says:

Comparing apples to oranges

I don’t think there’s any comparison here. NBC is a media organization that fills our brains with whatever content they choose to put on. NBC can influence millions of people whether you think they are or not.

Google may have a few different brands and applications, but in the end they are not a content provider. Google is like a phone company – they put people together. If you want this data or that data, Google is the place to go. It’s user-created.

Given the choice? I’d rather own NBC.

CPCcurmudgeon (user link) says:

Google better, for now

Google is, for sure, an Internet darling, and a valuable (or costly) stock, depending upon one’s point of view. The jury is out on how much more Google can grow. However, NBC has a weapon it can effectively use against Google if it chooses to. Google (and other pay-per-click supported search engines) are highly vulnerable to click fraud. NBC can do an in-depth investigation on the matter, and use its media properties to get this information to the public at large. Google has no way to counter this because people only use it to get to the information they want; it does not have any content available to it that it could use to discredit NBC or any other media company.

James Stevens (user link) says:

Re: Google better, for now

You’re comparing what Google does to what NBC does. One can’t really judge this becuz Google and NBC do 2 completely different things. And as long as Google continues to expand its services and innovate, they’ll keep growing. Google isn’t trying to offer users content that they can use like NBC… at least not yet.

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