YouTube the video star: Act II

YouTube’s announcement yesterday that “viewers are now watching more than 100 million videos per day on its site,


YouTube’s announcement yesterday that viewers are "now watching more than 100 million videos per day on its site,” sparked an outpouring of admiration for the young Web 2.0 video sharing site phenom.

YouTube’s self-reporting of its video usage statistics, reinforced by the “latest weekly data from Web measurement site Hitwise,” reporting “YouTube has come to hold the leading position in online video with 29 percent of the U.S. multimedia entertainment market,” represents a public relations coup (see also “Data agendas: PR by the numbers”).

The news is not all good for YouTube, however. reports “L.A. News service sues YouTube over riot video,” seeking $150,000 for infringed works and a court order prohibiting YouTube from allowing its work to be uploaded and broadcast on the site:

Popular video streaming service YouTube was dealt a lawsuit on Friday in federal court for allowing its users to upload copyrighted video footage onto its website which included the beating of trucker Reginald Denny during the 1992 riots. The owner and operator of Los Angeles News Service, Robert Tur, states in the lawsuit that within one week, one version of the Denny beating was viewed & downloaded 1,000 times via the site.

According to the report, Tur said: is not merely Grokster redux. For unlike the peer-to-peer file sharing systems at issue in the Grokster case, YouTube provides the computer servers and 'world-class data centers' which allow users to upload video clips directly to YouTube's servers.

In my prior post, “YouTube now 'entertainment destination': partners with NBC, courts CBS” I discuss how, earlier this year, YouTube acquiesced to NBC’s demand that an unauthorized clip of the NBC produced "Saturday Night Live" video, "Lazy Sunday," be removed from YouTube. I also present YouTube’s current focus on attracting such desirable, professionally produced content, rather than amateur content, quoting Chad Hurley, YouTube CEO:

There is a big wave of video coming online and these (media) guys want to work with us to stay relevant in this changing marketplace. This trend in the Internet isn't changing, so we are working with them to find solutions on how they can embrace what we are doing and really leverage that to help their business.

My prior post also discusses YouTube’s recent cross-promotional and authorized content distribution deal with NBC and its desire for same with CBS.

Despite YouTube’s best efforts to “legitimize” its service, however, its own success in attracting users is a double-edged sword; the policing of 20 million unique users per month is not an easy task.

Staci Kramer, paidContent, recounts her recent experience with “illegitimate” video content at YouTube:

Silly me … until I got my latest Emmy update from LAT’s, it hadn’t occurred to me I could watch nominated episodes at YouTube. Carefully posted in segments that don’t break the 10-minute limit, high-quality, commercial-free versions of dozens of popular broadcast, cable and premium cable shows are easily viewable. I’ve watched part of the Entourage Sundance episode and a segment from Grey’s Anatomy while working out how to write about it.

As far as I know, with the exception of an episode of 24 on MySpace as part of a promo, none of the episodes are online with permission. Many of them, if not all, are coming out on DVD; most are in re-runs or entering syndication. Some are available to buy as downloads. We can argue until the next season of the Sopranos about whether or not it benefits more than harms the networks for the shows to be up there. What isn’t arguable is that while the top executives of YouTube were rubbing elbows and talking network deals in Sun Valley this week, their site was flooded with network content their own terms of use says shouldn’t be there.

As incredible as it may seem, YouTube’s “100 million videos a day” milestone may represent the “easy part.” YouTube has a tough Act II ahead.

UPDATE SEE: YouTube: the world's on-demand reality show