Who needs Google? CBS vs. Viacom vs. NBC

Who wins in Google's YouTube world?
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor on

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?

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