It always felt wrong to me to call the fledgling Soapbox on MSN Video a "YouTube killer."
As of March 22 -- with NBC, News Corp., MSN, Yahoo, AOL and MySpace all aligning to try to take on Google's YouTube -- it feels a tad better to refer to Soapbox and YouTube in the same breath.
In the end, the deal's not really about content -- in spite of Microsoft's public statement, which I'm including in full as part of this post. It's all about who will have the best ad platform for video on the Web. (Especially if you concur that Google's an advertising company, not a search company.)
Here's Microsoft's official statement on the deal, from Microsoft's Platforms & Services head Kevin Johnson:
“Today’s announcement is a great win for MSN’s more than 460 million consumers and for online video more broadly. When launched, this new venture will provide free access to an unprecedented library of high-quality video content.
“Our investments in MSN Video and SoapBox over the past couple of years have shown us that video is an amazing driver of user engagement and excitement, both for consumers and for advertisers.
“Joining forces with Fox/Newscorp and NBC/Universal is completely in line with our strategy to offer our users easy access to the best video on the web in a way that is good for content owners, great for consumers, and provides compelling opportunities to advertisers. Building on the work we have done with MSN Video and SoapBox, we are taking another step toward realizing that vision.
“We were thrilled to be a part of these discussions from the start, and share with our colleagues in the content industry our vision for delivering easy access to great content for consumers while accommodating critical copyright and intellectual property protections. This partnership proves we can do both and serves as a great foundation for future collaboration.
“We look forward to the summer when the content library comes online, and MSN users can tune in and watch the videos they love.”
Update: Talk about bad timing! Microsoft has cut off Soapbox access (for new customers only, not existing ones) to figure out how to prevent the posting of pirated content. The closure may last up to two months.