YouTube In Talks To Open TheirTube Services Only For Verizon Customers

from the money-talks dept

Reports this morning say YouTube is in “advanced talks” with Verizon to set up a deal giving Verizon Wireless subscribers some sort of access to YouTube from their mobile phones, as well as Verizon TV customers on-demand access to some YouTube content. Clearly the biggest challenge for YouTube is to parlay its popularity and traffic into revenues, and the line of thinking behind the Google buyout was that its advertising technology and expertise would help on this front, since Google’s the undisputed champion of turning free services into massive revenues. But it looks like Verizon’s waved some money in front of YouTube and gotten them to think a little bit differently. While these exclusive deals may be good in the short term, their long-term prospects don’t look particularly good. Even if YouTube had been able to wrangle deals from broadband providers, would it have been able to become so popular if it were available only to, say, Cox cable internet customers? Furthermore, these deals don’t appear particularly well-thought out on Verizon’s part: they apparently want to sell people daily access to YouTube’s most popular videos through an on-demand feature of their FiOS TV service. So, users can pay for a small sliver of what’s available on YouTube’s web site for free, and see it in the sterling quality that will result from blowing the images up to fill TV screens. That sounds like a winner. And the idea that being able to view another small piece of YouTube’s content on their cell phone doesn’t seem particularly likely to drive users to Verizon Wireless, either: look over the failure of Mobile ESPN for more on the folly of exclusive mobile deals from the content provider’s point of view. Monetization is a big challenge for YouTube, but that doesn’t mean it should jump on every deal that offers some payment. Its success was built on being an open platform that encouraged and empowered video sharing; opening up services available only to some users, dependent on their network provider, is a step backwards from that, and one that won’t lead to long-term success.


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Comments on “YouTube In Talks To Open TheirTube Services Only For Verizon Customers”

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11 Comments
lorenzo says:

Mike,

you re being too soft with them.

the easiest way to give “some sort of access from mobile phones” is a Wap site serving flv7 played by Flash Lite,

2-days worth of programming are enough to scrape some of youtube into a wap site serving flashvideo to cell phones with zero bandwidth costs, some more programming a some money to consistently scrape all of youtube still with zero bandwidth costs. Maybe Verizon would be better off investing in wap-pifying youtube to the benefit of mobile users under a own-brand video search of sort, and then maybe even get money off adobe for driving Flash adoption on mobile handsets.

Surely youtube would be better off offering everybody a mobile site with more video formats. before keepvid or viidcap or anybody else do. I’d do it myself only to enjoy the web2.0 show of mike at techcrunch musing on a disruptive service bringing disruption to a disruptive space 🙂

Joel Coehoorn says:

Actually, youtube videos should look pretty good on TV. Most TVs still only display at the equivalent of 320×240, so hardly any ‘blowing up’ will be needed.

The problem with the deal is in how this will be presented to the consumer. Knowing Verizon, I envision them charging something like $2.95 per video download (or more), and then YouTube and Verizon share the revenue from each download. The problem is that I don’t see this as being that big a draw for consumers, because you’d have to pay for the video before you could view it and a big part of what makes YouTube work is the ability to ‘discover’ new videos at zero cost. Of course, I’ve been wrong before and it won’t hurt them much to try.

Ben(damnit) says:

Video, on phones?

Isn’t this a bit ridiculous? I mean, weather, breaking news, sports, maybe, but why in the world do people need YouTube video on their phones? I can see it now..

“dude, i’m totally watching YouTube videos on my phone. they’re only playing at 10fps cuz my phone can’t process the video fast enough, and those two people are only 6 pixels wide, but really i can almost see what’s going on. I so couldn’t have waited till i was at a computer to see this.”

Hamish MacEwan (profile) says:

Exclusivity

I’ve been waiting for a deal like this for sometime, but YouTube would be extremely foolish to enter in to an exclusive arrangement. While YouTube has broader appeal than ESPN, Disney and the other content MVNOs, the wider the better. One of the irritations in observing the current video broadband market is the futile fragmentation in search of “lock-in,” something our Telco cousins will have to learn to live without.

Yes, YouTube is already and has always been available on wireless devices, anything that can browse the net wirelessly can get to YouTube, and they’d be foolish to change anything there.

The point here is in the integrated environment of the proprietary handset, ease of use can be improved for the naive user, who is often willing to pay for convenience, YouTube will need to find a way to share in that with the operator. Some kind of “commercial use” clause?

With YouTube’s weight, combined with Google, and deals being done even by the likes of Cingular that recognise they can’t do it all themselves, and content providers realise that exclusivity isn’t worth it, the chance that this disaster will be avoided increase.

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