Nearly every company not named Google--News Corp., NBC, Yahoo, MSN and MySpace--has aligned on a new video venture that will be an alleged YouTube killer. A few months after this joint venture launches we'll find out if content is really king.
So what will this launch tell us? Simply put, whether professional video content such as 24, The Simpson and Saturday Night Live really matter. If it does matter then viewers will put up with the copyright protections and the advertising and make the News Corp.-NBC site a success no matter how poorly managed it becomes.
As for that last point, let's not sugarcoat what's going to happen here. There are way too many cooks in this video kitchen. You can't graft two management teams from News Corp. and NBC together and expect this joint venture to go swimmingly unless General Electric, which owns NBC, does some Six Sigma magic to fuse these management teams. Anything is possible, but the odds are that Hollywood egos will get in the way of the user experience.
In fact, the most important part of this joint venture may be the distribution via Yahoo, MSN and MySpace. If those properties aren't handcuffed they will get the user experience right. In the end, News Corp. and NBC may not even need a destination site to go head to head with YouTube.
If content matters viewers will find professional video and YouTube and its user generated glory may take a tumble. If not we'll have a professional video site that flounders while YouTube continues to do well. The most likely scenario--you'll get two video neighborhoods that both do ok.
A few other takeaways from today's news:
MSN gets may get a leg up. As Mary Jo Foley notes Microsoft gets some video content for its ad platform. MSN Soapbox, a weaker video rival to YouTube, may benefit.
Google is getting more arrogant by the minute. Word is Google is referring to the new video venture as Clown Co. A bit cocky eh? Paul Kedrosky sums it up in his blog linked above:
"Google insiders have already re-christened NewTube as "Clown Co". While that's amusing, and I'm no NewTube booster, it is another reminder of the growing arrogance at Google HQ."
Management of this video joint venture sounds too complicated already.
"The new company will be located in New York and Los Angeles. A transitional management team led by NBC Universal’s Chief Digital Officer George Kliavkoff, along with an experienced group of executives from NBC Universal and News Corporation, will work together to launch the site. The company’s permanent management will be announced shortly, along with branding details and additional advertising partners. Each company will devote a significant marketing and promotional budget to the new site’s launch."
In sum, there are two coasts and a revolving door of managers and the company is a few hours old. The deal is so convoluted there are 11 media contacts at the bottom of the press release.
All involved would be better off if they handed off all the video to two grad students in a Silicon Valley garage so they could cook up "a rich consumer experience featuring personalized video playlists, mashups, online communities and video search."