Who needs Google? CBS vs. Viacom vs. NBC

Who needs Google? CBS vs. Viacom vs. NBC

Summary: Who wins in Google's YouTube world?


Way back in November I underscored “Google’s fuzzy YouTube logic.”

In “Google to TV networks: Believe in YouTube” I analyzed how Google made its mark at YouTube, a PR mark, just one week after officially taking over the YouTube reigns. In a joint announcement with CBS, Google did what it excels at, spinning tales of Googley (plus now YouTube) goodness:

The free entertainment enjoyed by the YouTube “community,” thanks to CBS, is what is touted...What does the “sheer number of video views” do for CBS? Google, YouTube and CBS ‘believe’ in the power of YouTuber love.

In “Google's secret weapon is a four letter word” I credit Google’s mastery of spin for helping make the number one search engine the “gateway to the Internet.”

Google’s heretofore unbeatable spin to media companies on the YouTube magic:

1) YouTube owns the Web’s video audience (see “Google CEO on YouTube: We have the fans”)

2) Free content garners YouTubers’ eyeballs (see “Google to TV networks: Believe in YouTube”)

3) YouTuber fans reward free network produced content by becoming network fans (see “Google’s fuzzy YouTube logic”)


In “Google Top Five: Googley things I admire,” Google confidence is my number four:

Google Uniqueness; Google is not the “same old, same old” corporation; Google marches to its own beat, proudly and confidently.

I disclaimed, however, that none of the top five Googley things I put forth are “perfect,” without risk, and without downsides, including the Google beat.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt is Google’s leader and top cheerleader. He exudes Google pride. I witnessed Schmidt’s confidence personally, last August at the SES conference, as I discuss in “Google CEO Eric Schmidt on recession, competition: Google makes more money”.

When I questioned Schmidt directly about the long-term viability of the Google-centric blind auction AdWords system, he reiterated his belief in Google’s invincibility and its superiority.

At this Digital Markets Blog, I have been questioning Schmidt’s confidence in the long-term viability of the Google YouTube DMCA based content acquisition model (see “Is YouTube really a $1.65 billion Web 2.0 success?”).

Earlier this week, in “Can YouTube make revenue sharing work?,” I presented Viacom’s assertion of the greater value of “old media” expensive to produce content over “friends and family” social networking fare. I juxtaposed Viacom’s confidence in its economic market power against YouTube’s content must be free refrain.

I put forth an exchange at the Davos World Economic Forum panel addressing “the end of (traditional media companies’) business models.”

Michael Wolf, President, Viacom's MTV Networks:

“We’ve seen that our content has remained very popular and that the majority of page views on social networking sites are for professionally produced content.”

YouTube co-founder Steve Chen was quick to “add from the floor,” however:

“If you charge people for viewing content, they will now simply switch to the next provider.”

Ogilvy & Mather Chairman, Shelly Lazarus, is reported to have been “upbeat,” offering:

“Internet advertising creates a potential for companies to replace revenues lost from providing free content.”

I underscored, however, that traditional media content at YouTube is not provided free-of-charge in exchange for advertising revenues. The Google value proposition to professional content owners is a “belief” that YouTube brings a “significant new audience of viewers” to traditional media.

Google continues to wave its “belief” in YouTube, along with DMCA disclaimers, as the invaluable YouTube value proposition.

YouTube’s public response to Viacom’s copyright infringement notice yesterday, as reported by the Associated Press:

It is "unfortunate that Viacom will no longer be able to benefit from YouTube's passionate audience which has helped to promote many of Viacom's shows."

Viacom is apparently demanding YouTube compensate its copyright video assets via Googley cash rather than YouTuber passion (see “Is the Google YouTube honeymoon over?”).

CBS remains on the Google YouTube promotional barter economy bandwagon, for now.

NBC wants to have it all:

1) YouTube promotional tie-ins,
2) Take-downs of YouTuber uploaded NBC content,
3) NBBC advertising supported video syndication…

SEE “YouTube: What is NBC’s end game?” and “Who needs YouTube? Bolt, NBBC, Network2 on stage in NYC.”

Last October I signalled “Online video game: ‘technically illegal’ musical chairs”:

Fair or not fair, safe or not safe? The “fair use,” “safe harbor,” online video game is becoming a high-stakes musical chairs gamble. Content owners are circling for position; Online video elimination is the threat. 

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said last August, “I've learned that the law is not as crisply defined in this area as you might want.”

What does a lack of “crisply defined” game rules breed? A scramble.

Viacom made its play, Google may be readying its counter move, as I put forth yesterday in YouTube: Is Viacom hurting innocent YouTubers?

Topic: Social Enterprise

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  • YouTube provides nothing to content owners.

    Let's us start with the premis that the content owners (use ViaCom as an example) do NOT care if anyone ever see's their content. WHat they do care abou is that the content generates income. (Yes folks, that is what a for profit company does.)

    So the YouTube (Google) claim that thousands, millions, billions of people see the content from their site is meaningless to the owners of the content. There is no finaicncial benefit to it at all.

    Now there may be the indie sort of guys that get a thrill out of being seen and I hope it works out for them, but don't expect the proffesional producers to go along with it, they want to be paid for their work.

    The second issue is why would ViaCom settle for a small percentage of the add generated income when they can build their own site and get 100% of the income? Google and YouTube simply have nothing of value to offer. The claim that they "own" the viewers shows how little respect they have for users and how quickly viewers will add a new site to their "favorites".

    Bottom line, all Google bought was a lot of blue sky and some huge liabilities hiding in the wings that look an awful lot like lawyers...
    • You must enjoy the mentally charged discussions ?

      Why else would you be here No_Axe ? Let's get on with the ANSWERS now .

      1."Let's us start with the premis that the content owners (use ViaCom as an example) do NOT care if anyone ever see's their content.

      Answer: What planet are you from ? I know quite a few people who have seen and/or heard such items from my library and they like it . Bare with me , Mikey doesn't like the idea

      2."The second issue is why would ViaCom settle for a small percentage of the add generated income when they can build their own site and get 100% of the income?"

      Answer: If you read the story , you would see GOOGLE has the AUDIENCE . Including myself . I go there sometimes looking for oldies . I view them a couple of times and eventually wind up repurchasing them again . I had all these tunes over 20 years ago . I use the iTunes music store to purchase my content to expand my library . Hopefully I'll be able to keep my library after a fire . Heads UP ! Bottom line No_Axe , don't be *issed because it works .

      <BR>Thanks APPLE
      • For the record , I don't have an issue with D.R.M.

        I pay for what I want . It works .
    • YT Doesn't Provide (Much) to Content Owners, And Google Knows It.

      My only evidence is that Google MUST know that they don't really provide much to content owners. I believe that they have to know that they have the same model as BitTorrent and DVD copy programs- ostensibly meant for use on legally owned or free material, but rely on the basically uncontrollable (within current policy) uploading of protected content- the stuff people really want to see. Yes, there is a lot more user-generated content then either BT or DVD copiers, but there is no way that Google would want to have to rely on that as the sole draw of viewers.

      Therefore, it can only be said that Google is simply pulling this move to keep itself looking legal, and distance itself from its users when people focus on the illegal activities that go on. After all, Google knows that the waters of DMCA are quite murky and that it's impossible to define where Google's responsibility begins or ends. They also know that historically, the lawsuits usually hinge not on technical details, but the general outlook on the company's involvement. Google is now acting on that knowledge.
  • Huh?

    It is extremely difficult to figure out WHAT THE HECK you are talking about here.