Viacom Says No More YouTube Clips

from the yanked dept

Slowly, some TV networks are realizing that having clips of their shows on sites like YouTube is a good thing. Certainly they’re within their rights to demand that their content be removed from the sites, but it’s not necessarily a great business decision. Viacom has been down this path before: back in October, it demanded the removal of clips of Comedy Central shows from YouTube, despite comments from the producers of certain shows acknowledging how fans posting and viewing the clips had helped make them more popular. Eventually, the media giant relented, but today it’s told Google to yank more than 100,000 YouTube clips of Viacom shows and content. This is a pretty bonehead move on Viacom’s part, since it’s cutting itself off from any of the benefits the clips could deliver — all because it can’t get Google to cough up enough money for it. This is the sort of thinking that plagues the entertainment industry, that content’s value must always be directly financial, and not promotional. Of course, Google and YouTube must accept some of the blame here, too. By buying off content companies and striking “licensing deals” with them, rather than trying to get them to understand how a site like YouTube actually helps their businesses, they’ve set the precedent that content companies are right in demanding payment from them. This creates one of those proverbial “leaving money on the table” situations, where big media companies simply can’t look past the short-term cash to see the potential long-term gain.

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Comments on “Viacom Says No More YouTube Clips”

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impartial viewer says:

Content companies have rights too

It is true that clips on YouTube can help increase viewership and thus increase ad revenues for Comedy Central. But this is also true for Google. Having Comedy Central clips brings more traffic to Google and thus increases Google’s ad revenue.

Google, right now, is trading off of stolen content and trying to clean up its act through licensing. Good for Google. It, at least, understands that capitalism and freedom cannot thrive where property rights are violable. Arguing that Comedy Central should just let its rights be violated because it is good for them is a bad argument in a free society.

SteveHeadCase says:

Blind faith

Where is the proof that distribution on the Web increases (off-line) television viewership?

Has distribution on the Web increased newspaper sales? Has it even increased total newspaper company revenues, including from their online sites?

Has distribution on the Web increased record sales? Has it even increased total music label revenues, including from online sales?

Why is it short-sighted for Viacom to want users to come to Viacom’s owned-and-operated sites to see its video content?

Frnak says:

I gotta hurry!

Wow! All that great Viacom content is getting pulled off YouTube!? I gotta run down to Wal-Mart and buy all those DVDs that I can no longer watch on YT! Or maybe, since those shows are no longer being promoted via YT, I’ll forget about them altogether. Probably the latter.

When will the media providers figure out that the problem is not piracy? The problem is that they have a dying business model. You just can’t regulate or legislate to break the rules of supply and demand. You can’t sell something (that is, media distributed the old way) when there is no demand. And if you don’t supply what is in demand, someone else will. There’s a reason that economics has worked this way for all of recorded history. And it won’t go away just because these guys don’t get it.

diana1096 says:

My household of 10 didn’t watch it before YT.
Viacom is shooting itself in the foot by removing the content.
Just think of all the others shows that are going to be yank that will get no new views. ALL those ADS they make money off. That hurts not only them but the companies that putting out the ads, the ads companies and the show it’s self.
If Viacom would’ve be smart about it, they would’ve requested that show times, ads and a host of other things be added when you request to view.
But then again who said they were smart to begin with?

Viewer says:

One of the reasonss.....

YouTube got so big is due to users posting copyrighted material. Of course, it did help many copyright owners but it should be the copyright holder’s decision to post or not.

Having said that, Viacom has never shown a great deal of originality. Most of their properties – MTV, Comedy Channel, etc – were already functioning when they bought them.

Seems the accountants run that company, not content originators.

Anonomous Coward says:

IP too high on a pedistal


The original intent of Copyright/Patent system was not to grant permanent and indefinite ownership of the intangible concept of Intellectual Property. Indeed as the United States’ first patent examiner, Thomas Jefferson wrote:

“He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.”

Also, a system which robustly enforces freedom of speech in a way, like YouTube, requires anonymity, otherwise speech is really not unencumbered and not free, so you’re going to have anonymity. Inherently that means that the anonymity creates free speech, and free speech means that copyright cannot be enforced, that is until MPAA/Viacom/IP owners sopenia IP addresses of posters on YouTube.

I’m going out on a limb here when I ask which do we uphold? Maybe fellow TDirters can help to connect the dots when I ask if Copyright, in general, should apply in a world where IP is being elevated to god-like levels, should it have the ability to wipe out a person’s savings account?

First Amendment or Upholding Copyright law. First Amendment or Copyright law… Enough ranting, flame away…

Kilroy says:

Supply VS Demand

YouTube (Google) has no right (legal or otherwise) to show content that does not belong to them, profit from it, and then not share it with the content owner.

However, of course, much of this content is working to promote itself and therefore may benefit the content owner in the long run and YouTube (Google) along the way.

There is no fix for this problem as the current model stands. The reason for this is that the real problem that needs fixed here is actually an economic one: Supply VS Demand.

The demand for on-demand video on the web is far greater than the (legal) supply, forcing people to use whatever means necessary to attempt to balance Supply and Demand (in this case, by posting copyrighted material on the web).

So, what can be done? YouTube needs to create a system (including paying the content owners for the ad revenue) that will allow copyrighted material to be published on their site and therefore easing the demand and thus leading to a decline in “unauthorized uses” of the same material.

Just my thoughts. But what do I know.

jj says:

Re: Re: Profits

some idiot said “Perhaps because Viacom profits from it as promotional content, too?

This idea of “profit” is not a zero-sum game.

Explain how viacom profits off of CBS shows being shown on youtube?
Let me clue you into something. These TV shows exist for one reason: commercials. Without the commercials, many of the shows you like wouldnt exist. When someone takes a TV show, cuts out all the commercials, and distributes it on youtube, there is no money gained.

You think having the shows on youtube will give the shows free advertising? Chances are that if someone is watching the shows on youtube, they probably wont watch it on Television.

As far as internet being used as a channel. This is a good idea, and many networks are finally taking advantage of this. you can go to CBS innertube or NBC rewind for example to see shows that you might have missed , with commercials. The commercials pay for the shows.

Don Dodge (user link) says:

Like Napster all over again

This is very difficult for YouTube to do in a comprehensive way. I was VP of product development at Napster when the RIAA and Federal judge asked us to filter out all copyrighted music. It was difficult with music…it will be nearly impossible for video.

The problem is completeness. You can put together hashing algorithms and “finger printing” techniques to find the obvious stuff…maybe 80% of the copyrighted content. The remaining 20% is nearly impossible to identify with precision and completeness. It will require lots of human review to get it done.

Then the users will get very clever in disguising the clips they upload with different names, tags, sample rates, lengths, fake lead ins, etc.

The judge in the Napster case demanded 100% compliance, not 90% or 95%…100%. There was no way to effectively do it so the judge just shut Napster down.

The truth is that Viacom probably couldn’t provide a 100% accurate list of their clips either.

I wrote a blog on this topic today, and anothrer on my experiences at Napster battling a similar problem with the RIAA. See

SteveHeadCase says:

Sincere question

This is an sincere question for those respondents in this thread who feel strongly that YouTube has the right to display Viacom’s content without asking and/or that Viacom is hurting its business by not allowing YouTube to display its content.

Let’s say Viacom was aware that the Web will be an increasingly important distribution channel for their content, was trying to develop its own video destination website, and hoped to support that website through minimal advertising.

And let’s say that Viacom wants to have the fewest number of advertisements possible on their videos, in order to avoid impairing the viewer’s experience — but that, because their costs are extensive, this requires the ability to charge a lot per ad for appearing on or near these videos.

And let’s say that Viacom’s ability to charge advertisers a lot for appearing on or near those videos was significantly impaired by the availability of these videos on other websites.

In that case, would you still consider Viacom’s efforts to try to make sure that only their own destination website (or those with whom they have struck revenue share deals) displayed their content an unethical or irrational decision?

Mayur (user link) says:

Business model changes

Viacom is shooting themselves in the foot. Media companies need to get there head out of the sand and start realizing that Internet video is about to change their business completely, if it hasn’t already. And its happening whether they like it or not. Just look at the clear examples of how the Internet has changed corporate realities already:

– More and more users are spending time watching videos on youtube, and less time in front of the television. And with every new year of graduates from universities and highschools that trend just gets more prominent. Gates had it right: people want to watch videos when, what, where they like.

Movie theatres, for example, have had to diversify but have still not woken up to the new reality. Going to the theatre is still just too expensive and not tailored to how people want to watch. The theatres should get smaller, not larger and there should be more of them with home projectors. And how about giving every movie patron a $5 gif t certificate to purchase a recent release from their video distribution web site?

Specific to online video, google is doing what they can. They will soon share revenue with content producers which is a step in the right direction. IMHO, I think google is doing this to give media producers the message that making money from online video can be profitable.

The cats are all out of their bags ladies and gentlemen. If you are a media mogul, you have two obvious choices as I see it (well 3 actually but the 3rd one is dumbass):

1. Get involved with Google, let them host your content,
push for high definition streaming (as it becomes mainstream), take a cut of the revenue they give, horizontally brand your content with websites, blogs, t-shirts, underwear, (eg: I am sure someone would buy laptops with a 24 logo etched in). Also try and get Google to create a flash player that doesn’t allow your content to be stolen (a relatively minor problem when you look at the stats). Ensure advertisements are placed throughout the content or put translucent sponsor names in the video.

2. Create your own version of youtube so that you can make it a social network and rebrand it to your liking. This is high cost because you have to resize your datacenter, and become an expert at streaming video online..etc. Maybe google will rent you space in their dc…ask them.

3. Be a dumbass. Pull from youtube and close your eyes, just like the monkey picture. Open your eyes again in 5 years and then scramble and claw your way back, if you still can.

To date, I don’t think content producers have fully accepted the inevitable because the majority of viewers are still offline on tv. However, the trend is clearly increasing (consider where fiber to every home and a vista/mac pc will be in 2 years) and early adopters that take the plunge will lead the pack and get strong brand loyalty.

Thanks for reading!

Cixelsid says:


Yes numnuts, somehow you’ll avoid watching Southpark on Comedy Central, cause you can watch it on YouTube in a frame a quarter of the size of your 17″ Monitor.

Come on! There is absolutely no evidence at all that Viacom is losing any business here, in fact YouTube is providing Viacom with free word of mouth (what’s the new marketing buzzword… oh yeah, guerilla/viral advertising).

The only loser here is Viacom.

SteveHeadCase says:

Responding to Carlo


I’m sorry that I didn’t properly explain myself. I thought I was describing the current situation, not a ‘red herring.’

But let’s review:

I said: “Let’s say Viacom was aware that the Web will be an increasingly important distribution channel for their content, was trying to develop its own video destination website, and hoped to support that website through minimal advertising.”

Reality: Of course, this is Viacom’s current strategy, albeit poorly executed. From the top down, Viacom believes that their long-term survival is based on building strong video/interactive destinations for their television brands. They believe these sites will be free. They know that advertising is their only revenue stream.

I said: “And let’s say that Viacom wants to have the fewest number of advertisements possible on their videos, in order to avoid impairing the viewer’s experience — but that, because their costs are extensive, this requires the ability to charge a lot per ad for appearing on or near these videos.”

Reality: Television content is absurdly expensive, primarily due to the cost of ‘stars,’ union labor and premium production quality. But Viacom is also keenly aware of the terrible effect that hundreds of low-end pay-per-click advertisements would have on its brand, its viewer experience and its relationships with content creators. Rather, they would like to sell expensive sponsorships to limited numbers of prominent advertisers.

I said: “And let’s say that Viacom’s ability to charge advertisers a lot for appearing on or near those videos was significantly impaired by the availability of these videos on other websites.”

Reality: I guess it’s possible that advertisers don’t value exclusive adjacency to valuable content, but… um, actually, no, that’s not possible. Viacom’s ability to charge high-end prices to be on or near Viacom’s content on their own sites is obviously impaired by the ability of advertisers to buy advertising on or near that content on other sites.

So I guess I’m wondering which of these postulations lacks credibility. If you could specify that, I could respond and help move the conversation forward.

get a grip children says:

google should be charging media company for advertising! instead of paying them money

The media companies’ media is what made YouTube worth north of $1 billion dollars. YouTube is not popular because some kid in the midwest is making compelling original content. Indeed, most of the independent content consists of parodies or rip-offs of media company produced videos and programs.

The $1Billion+ that YouTube was worth to Google is, therefore, directly due mostly to the illegal expropriation of owned content. This is a crime on a massive scale. That one business ripped off another business does not make it right.

Grow up and learn what freedom is about. If you abide the wholesale violation of property rights, your property is next.

Skeptic says:

Author is full of b.s.

> “This is a pretty bonehead move on Viacom’s part, since it’s cutting itself off from any of the benefits the clips could deliver”

Yeah right. The author isn’t looking out for Viacom’s interest. Nor does he have a clue about how to run a multibillion dollar a year business. The author is just a dumb kid who thinks that some Viacom executive is going to read his post and say, “wait a second, that guy’s right, let’s give out free content!”

Sorry junior, the world doesn’t work that way. No Viacom exec is going to read your post. No one who reads your post is gonna talk to a Viacom exec. It actually is not in Viacom’s interest to give the content away for free, especially in an uncontrolled manner. Viacom already has ways of advertising shows and giving clips on it’s various websites like And Viacom retains control over the content when using these websites.

Sure Viacom is a greedy, selfish company. All companies are greedy and selfish. That doesn’t mean doing what YOU want them to do is in their best interest. Even claiming so is pure bullsht.

It would be better if people would stop bullshting and start to acknowledge that there is a legitimate conflict of interest between content publishers and content consumers. Only then can we as a society start to bring balance back to these two groups. Ignoring the dilemma doesn’t make it go away.

Sunny Allen (user link) says:

Viacom - a $money-making$ idea for them and a solu

The shows and clips I watched on Youtube didn’t air anymore and dvds are not available. Therefore Viacom makes no more profit from these shows anyways. (Rocko’s Modern Life being one of them)

I’ve come up with a solution that would make the fans and Viacom happy. Viacom should create it’s own site similar to and upload ALL episodes of ALL of it’s shows that are no longer on air. (or maybe even if they are still on air) Charge something along the lines of $5.00 per year membership to each member wanting to view the streaming media available within the site. BOOM…they’ve made more money INCLUDING a new profit off of OLD shows that were previously no longer profitable. Good idea? I sure think so. I would have no problem paying a REASONABLE membership fee to see all the old shows I dearly love and miss again.

Anybody know a way to get this idea to the right people at Viacom? Please help pass it along.

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