Earth to Viacom: YouTube is fulfilling a need

An open letter to Viacom and others trying to sue YouTube out of existence.

Although my PVR catches most of the shows my family and I want to watch, once in a while it messes up. Case in point: a couple weeks, we missed the last half of the Amazing Race, so I tried to find it online. My first stop was YouTube. In the past, just about everything could be found there, including full TV episodes and excerpts. Thanks to all the lawsuits, it's not there anymore. No more Stargate, Survivor, Colbert Report, Saturday Night Live, nothing. I could possibly have found it on a pirate site, but ended up settling for a text synopsis. It's just not the same.

To Viacom and others suing YouTube: You claim that YouTube is depriving you of revenue from your content. I would argue, how is YouTube broadcasting the shows any different from my local affiliate broadcasting the shows? Isn't brand and show loyalty something that you and your advertisers crave? And finally, what about all that content that can't be found any other place? What good is reserving the right to distribute the content, and then not distributing it at all, or making it incredibly hard to find and use (try finding an arbitrary Survivor episode for example).

YouTube has a great set-up. They have oodles of servers and bandwidth, the quality is good enough for casual watching, and they have all that community and viral marketing and recommendations and so forth. And it's free. Free for you, and free for the viewers. It would cost you millions to set up something like that, and each network or content provider would have to do the same. It makes no sense.

If you want to make the shows available on your own site, that's fine too. Just use an embedded YouTube player. That way you get people from your site, people blogging about the shows, and people seeing it on YouTube all watching and talking about your content. If I were you, I'd upload the episodes to YouTube myself to ensure good quality and maybe include some ads.

We, the consumers, just want to watch the darned shows, so please make it easy for us.

Note: The opinions expressed on this blog are mine alone and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

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