Every single TV news reporter talking about the Viacom-Google suit has a bias. They are talking about their industry, whose dominance is threatened, and a lawsuit which aims to extend that dominance. If the hold of broadcasters on our attention is lost, their careers are lost.
They're homers. Every one of them.
The fact is, as I've said before, that all this is a negotiation. Media companies love to use lawsuits in negotiations. It's like war games to them. Since they're all lawyered-up six ways from Sunday it gives those boys (and girls) something to do. Everything someone else signs must be strictly adhered to, but we can wiggle out through interpretations, taking it to court. It's the media equivalent of Republican chickenhawks pushing military strategy.
Let's review briefly. Through YouTube, Google offers a lower-cost way for videos to reach the Internet market. It's much cheaper than a media company doing it themselves. Instead, that's just what Viacom is doing -- at both a financial and audience cost. The Joost deal is phony-baloney, the company isn't yet operating and its business model is based on P2P, so ISPs can claim (with some justification) they're stealing bandwidth. Yet whenever we see a report on this controversy, Joost is thrown out there like it's real. And the move to erase user-generated videos from YouTube is a PR nightmare for Viacom.
YouTube has not monetized its video traffic. It's still a money-loser. Google wants or needs a business model that apportions ad revenue fairly before it seeks ads. Yet whenever this controversy is discussed TV hucksters go on-and-on repeating the Viacom spin that YouTube is "stealing" ad revenue.
That's simply false. Google has yet to take ad revenue. These are incremental viewers, often seeing clips too short to run 30-second ads against.
What happens now? Google seeks agreements with other media companies, and seeks to fully monetize the agreements it has -- as with CBS. That effort is hampered, as you might see on our blog, by CBS' insistence that only partial clips go out to remote sites, an attempt to push people back to YouTube (and its ads).
In the end this is about controlling how and where users access video content. It is meant to protect the broadcast monopoly. Google needs to start maximizing the revenue it can get at YouTube for the videos it has, measure that, advertise the numbers, and continue to seek negotiations. That means its marketing department needs to get on the ball.
The smartest move right now would be to push its AdSense for video, with 5 or 10-second ads that can be stuck on the front of YouTube-hosted videos, with the permission of the copyright owner. (A click box where people upload would take care of it.) Then send out a press release when one of the Vloggers gets a fat check. And publicize the positive impacts of the ads, maybe give a prize to the best creative.
This is a war between two mediums, and only one will win. My money is on the Web.