Does The New NBC Universal/News Corp. Video Offering Have A Chance?

from the not-likely dept

Well, we were hopeful that the new effort by NBC Universal and News Corp. to create their own video distribution system was actually a step in the right direction, but as the details come out, it’s sounding like it’s going to face a lot of challenges in gaining any serious traction. The official announcement isn’t entirely clear on the details, but there are some troublesome (but not all that surprising) signs. Michael Arrington wrote up a nice live transcript of the conference call announcing the service, and the potential problems become clear almost immediately. The two big things that NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker and News Corp. COO Peter Chernin focus on are the importance of protecting their intellectual property and the opportunities for advertising through this offering. That is, they don’t seem to recognize that the core value that YouTube always provided them was as a promotional vehicle. It was an easy way to view content, but also an easy way for people to share and discuss the content — effectively promoting the shows on behalf of the networks. By focusing on protecting the content and the narrow short-term ways to make money, the project is likely to face some significant hurdles. While you could argue that Wall Street certainly wants these execs to focus on the revenue side of the equation, even some Wall Street analysts are already noting that the new service is unlikely to get very far, as the “divergent agendas and priorities” of the players involved will likely strangle it. It’s important to focus on revenue opportunities, but those revenue opportunities aren’t going to be found in “controlling” the content and annoying users with ads they don’t want to see.

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Comments on “Does The New NBC Universal/News Corp. Video Offering Have A Chance?”

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Property rights advocate says:

There you go again

That is, they don’t seem to recognize that the core value that YouTube always provided them was as a promotional vehicle

You are trying to spin this as YouTube being an advertising system for video from big media owners. In reality, YouTube is a digitial advertising billboard that makes money by using video from others to attract viewers.

You see YouTube as providing a service to big media. I see that YouTube has profited handsomely from the expropriation of other people’s property rights. Apparently, the owners of that property agree with me and not you.

Plain and simple: Those who own content have a right to do with it what they will.

Casper says:


The issue they have is that their contents quality is dropping and they see a supplemental source to be had online. The problem is, just because it’s there, doesn’t mean enough people will buy into it to make it work. I know I’ll never both to visit the site. Not because I have a grudge, but because there is nothing there worth seeing. If I wanted to see it, I would DVR the shows I want to watch and screw the rest of the commercials and filler… of course, soon they will start suing people with TIVO’s for copyright violations….

heidi (profile) says:

I’ve used to catch episodes of things that I’ve missed, or when they put pilots for some new shows up before they aired. I was willing to sit through a few short commercials to not have to bother obtaining those episodes through other means. But start layering on the ads, and I’ll fire up my P2P client faster than you can say “strategic marketing”.

Danger says:

Free Advertising

This article makes a good point in that these companies should realize that YouTube and the like are free advertising. Why wouldn’t a content company like NBC Universal license clips of shows for YouTube? I’d even go as far as say they should be the ones posting clips on YouTube; this would allow content to reach a greater audience, and gain broader appeal. It seems to me that they are too concerned with protecting their copyright, and not with anyone actually seeing their product, and that’s no way to run a business.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

Of course they have a shot at working well for Fox and NBC. Of course, they are in talks with YouTube over carrying content on YouTube also. Not sure if it is proper blogging ediquet, but I have posted this news at

If this is considered rude Mike or Joe or Carlo, feel free to delete this comment. If it is rude, let me know.

The News Corp and NBC execs are saying all the magic words, ubiquitous distribution, freeing content and such. They just want to be a part of the equation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Face the Facts

If they make it easy to watch their shows (with normal video-type commercials) then they will not only be able to “pay the rent”, but they will also make far more money off of it.

You are taking the studio from content creation company and removing every other middle man that made money off the broadcasting. If they ALSO make it entirely “on-demand” (something the cable co’s dont even understand the meaning of), then why on earth would someone want to get their video any other way?

Not to mention the fact that you can REALLY capture demographics and the advertising sold is far more valuable becuase it can be targeted PER USER.

In essence, its a dream come true for content creators and advertisers.

Anonymous Coward says:

The Free Advertising model doesnt work...

Look, when it comes to watching TV, you can’t say that letting others host your video is free advertising.

The argument doesn’t work. Most video has an extremely low replay value. Once you watch it, you just dont need to watch it again.

So getting others to watch “a little” of it from some other source in shitty quality might be ok, but thats not the problem they are trying to solve.

Video is not about selling content. No amount of “free” advertising for that content will help sell something that is not being sold. What is being sold is advertising.

TV shows are all about selling commercials. There are precious few shows that can be a success under any other model. (think HBOs shows) Precious few tv watchers are willing to pay for the individual content. Anything else is money that must be made from selling consumer’s attention spans. Anything that removes the value of that attention span will remove the value of the content to those that are funding it. (consumer’s value is worthless as it is not money)

Yeah, if it was “Fair Use” of the material, then it is good “free advertising” as it will make people WANT to spend their attention watching that advertising.

But if its what they are really fighting (the removal of ad revenue by providing means of consuming the content without “spending” consumer attention) then no, there is no way that it can possibly help.

I am definitely not a fan of strong-arm legal tactics, but at least I am smart enough to know that you can’t stop an avalanche by putting each and every snowflake under a microscope.

The studios shouldn’t have to fear losing their shirts to their lawyers as they spend 500$ every time a user tries to upload their material to youtube.

(disclaimer: I dont watch tv, I think all the content beign created these days is crap and not worth wasting my time on, that and I dont like advertising…)

MadJo (profile) says:

Re: The Free Advertising model doesnt work...

How many people watched SNL, BEFORE Lazy Sunday?
And how many people watched it AFTER Lazy Sunday?

You say free advertising doesn’t work… I say it does, though on a different scale.
You need to have something captivating, you need to have quality to hook an audience.

Sure you can fill the airwaves with reality show upon reality show. Easy money, and people apparently watch it… They watch it because there is nothing else to watch. But it isn’t quality, it’s just quantity.

I heard that SNL was great once, and then became rubbish.
Suddenly with Lazy Sunday, people saw a glimmer of something entertaining, and realized that SNL was funny again. And people started watching it again.
That’s the free advertising that NBC got.

Businesses should stop just looking at the short term ideas, and look at the broader picture, and a bit further into the future. Most businesses are so focussed on the here and now and the bottom line, that they forget that it’s not all about that.
But that’s a whole ‘nother hornets-nest of a discussion.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:


“I heard that SNL was great once”

Now that is just uncalled for. You are making me feel old here.

Companies just look at the short term because thats what investors demand. Its not about you and me and John Q. Public, its about what Wall Street demands. Executives forget about the short term and they are no longer with the company.

You think business cares about what the consumer wants? They don’t, they just care about the money. The general public doesn’t stand a chance.

property rights advocate says:

free advertising

hey don’t seem to recognize that the core value that YouTube always provided them was as a promotional vehicle.

The owners of the content are the ones who should determine how it is distributed and who has a right to make a profit from it. You may spin this as providing a service to the big media owners, but if they don’t want that service, you cannot force them.

YouTube isn’t interested in giving big media content free promotion. Their goal is to make MONEY off of providing the content. They do not have a right to make that money without the permission of the content owners.

property rights advocate says:

Re: Re: free advertising

The location of a store is not a copyrighted piece of information. Stores would like their customers to know where their locations are. That’s why they pay to have that information listed and pay for advertisements to let people know their locations.

Whether NBC wants their content on YouTube as an advertisement is up to them. They’ll pay if it is worth it. Apparently, they feel they will make more money by keeping tighter control. In the end, YouTube may make greater revenue when NBC decides to pay to have their content advertised on YouTube.

In the meantime, you’ll be able to see all the indy content on YouTube that their servers can handle.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: free advertising

Stores would like their customers to know where their locations are. That’s why they pay to have that information listed and pay for advertisements to let people know their locations.

There are maps that have store locations that aren’t advertisements. Do you think that stores that are put on maps without their permission should be able to demand they be taken off?

The entire point, however, is that you are wrong that it’s somehow illegal to make money off of someone else’s content without paying them — especially if you’re adding value by helping others find the content.

It really is the same thing as a map.

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