by Joseph Weisenthal

Verizon Wireless To Offer Limited Functionality YouTube On Its Limited Functionality Internet Service

from the very-limiting dept

Lately, we've seen a spate of deals whereby media companies are trying to "get user-generated video", as in grab a slice of the online video market in whatever way they can. What we've seen less of are companies "getting" user-generated video in terms of actually understanding what makes the market tick, and why people like it. Recently, we discussed a story that YouTube was in some sort of talks with Verizon Wireless to provide exclusive access to subscribers of the company's mobile and TV services. We noted that a deal like that didn't make much sense from YouTube's standpoint. Sure it would garner some quick cash today (something it hardly needs now that it's part of Google), but it seemed to violate what made YouTube successful. It would be as though the site only worked on one broadband ISP. Today the deal was officially announced, and it turns out it's only exclusive for a short period of time, which is good for YouTube. From Verizon Wireless' perspective, it's hoping that access to the site will make its VCast service more appealing. VCast is the company's data service that limits customers' choices to those sites that the company hand selects. But the deal seems to be missing what it is that makes the service popular. It's only going to offer a limited number of hand-selected videos, as opposed to the long tail of content that makes the service what it is. Thats like only getting to watch the featured videos on YouTube's front page. Of course, you'd expect a company that hand selects what services its customers are allowed to use to also specify which videos they're allowed to watch on them. It almost feels silly to repeat the argument that mobile companies would be a lot better off if they just opened up their services and allowed customers to access the things they wanted. At least it seems like this argument is starting to catch on. Washington Post tech columnist Rob Pegoraro also dishes on the deal, arguing much the same thing. People don't like walled gardens, and over the long run, exclusive deals always lose out to offerings that allow the consumer to choose. Companies that have the mentality that they can just offer up "the best", whether it's the best sites, or the best content on those sites, will always be behind online, because it's the nature of these services that consumers that are deciding what's popular, and not waiting for it to be spoonfed to them. Of course, Verizon would probably just respond by saying that those who make this argument just doesn't get capitalism, but it seems like Verizon Wireless doesn't get its users, and it's users who drive capitalism (and pay the bills).

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Nov 28th, 2006 @ 10:05am

    Good Content

    As much as I agree that limiting the content, and trying to choose which content is suitable is a bad choice, (see my article on this ( ...I still think that YouTube content is a runaway winner on a mobile video service like VCast. We at Techdirt have been complaing for years that the telcos and the media companies were oblivious to the concept of user-created content. Now, with the "surprise" success of YouTube they are catching on. Well, we should be happy. YouTube features a wealth of short, low res videos that are quite entertaining and whose cost is nil. That's just the kind of content the mobile video sector needs. I hope this works, and works really well. Then other carriers will catch on...and maybe Verizon will stop choosing content...and maybe when they realize that user-gen content is as popular as major media content, they will also realize that they have some leverage when big media leans on them to put DRM into every device they sell. Well, baby steps.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    PhysicsGuy, Nov 28th, 2006 @ 10:22am

    Yay, remind me to never get VCast. I'll wager the only videos they have for download are the tv and movie trailers... WOW !!! :o

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Nov 28th, 2006 @ 11:17am

    And how much...

    is the new "Handler's Fee" going to be that will kick in about 4 months later?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Aaron, Nov 28th, 2006 @ 11:23am

    Walled Garden?

    I have Verizon and VCast. I constantly hear people say it is a walled garden and it hand selects sites, but I can go to whatever site I want, I can choose favoriates like Google, gmail or the local Doppler weather and traffic from the site I choose. It does have a GUI interface making it easier to get to certain places (kind of like AOLs welcome screen back in the day) but you can do whatever you want on VCast.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    JS, Nov 28th, 2006 @ 11:58am


    I have verizon and the internet on my shitty razr. I am kind of sick of verizon peddling things that should just be available to users i.e. Why should I buy my ringtones from verizon when I can make them myself or why can't my phone just play a ringtone with a .mp3 extension instead of me having to change the file extension to .mid before I use it or why doesn't verizon want users connecting their phone to their pc via bluetooth. So the question is why doesn't verizon let users do things with their phones that they were intended to do in the first place? Because they are bitches, unfortunately I have to stick with them since everyone I know uses them for cell phone service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 28th, 2006 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Verizon

    I have verizon too, only because everyone I know does. I'm pretty sick of them too... They have their phones on lock down. All of the user menu's are now basically idiot proof, but this take away the fun for the people that actually know how to use them. I can see why verizon did it though.... your average user doesn't bother to read the manual and ends up screwing up the settings on the phone..e-mail your phone a 20 second mp3 clip, it should let you apply it as a ringtone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    old buckin keegan, Nov 28th, 2006 @ 1:47pm

    I think verizon Vcast is totally cool beans, soup and crackers... it's too expensive though. Hell, DSL only cost 15 bucks a month now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    ChronoFish, Nov 28th, 2006 @ 4:15pm

    Exclusive Content

    ISPs beware:

    Net Neutrality will be quickly turned on it's head if the likes of Google starts blocking IP ranges - i.e. From Bell South. Yeah they would love to charge Google double - but Google is more likely to have the upper hand here - hence the ability to offer "exclusive" content.

    Just read these comments on this page summed here: "I would use anything else in a heartbeat if X was available".

    If you lock down the content, the users will flee.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anthony Cintron, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 9:42pm

    Re: Re: Verizon

    Hey, I have a Verizon Chocolate. How do I put mp3 ringtones on this phone? I own over 600 CDs (at retail price). I don't need to spend $3 per ring-tone.

    Any help would be GREATLY appreciated. I'll even paypal someone $10 for their help!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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