Video of the week: High School Musical 2 on YouTube

August 24, 2007

“High School Musical 2” debuted this week. If you don’t have kids, you may not be aware that this Disney franchise is a mega-hit, selling more albums in 2006 than any other (even American Idol stars). The debut of the sequel this week received 17 million viewers on Disney, the most ever for a cable show. Wow, now that’s impressive. “High School Musical” stars Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ashley Tisdale. (I finally know who Ashley Tisdale is, ’cause I’ve seen her YouTube videos before.)

I’m more intrigued by the fact that clips from “High School Musical” are some of the most watched clips on YouTube, dating back close to one year. Disney doesn’t seem to mind these postings by third parties on YouTube since they haven’t asked for their removal. It might well be that Disney doesn’t want to alienate all the teenagers and young kids who are posting these videos of “High School Musical” on YouTube out of their sheer fanaticism for the movie.

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Are some YouTubers overreacting to the new InVideo ads

August 24, 2007

News:  I’ve read over some of the negative comments posted by people on YouTube related to YouTube’s InVideo ad system.  Under the new system, YouTube will deploy ads that will pop-up at the bottom 20% of the video screen, lasting for several seconds.  If you click on the pop-up ad, you will be redirected to an internal ad video.  If you do nothing, the ad disappears.  Meanwhile, the original video you played will continue playing.  One thing to note:  the new InVideo ads will only be used on select “Partner” videos — the corporations and select users YouTube has deals with.

Some of the comments sent in to YouTube are filled with expletives, vitriol, and venom.  Here’s one thoughtful comment I read, though:  “‘OK by me. Someone has to pay the bills. Between users fees and advertising I prefer the latter.’ Yeah, but why does someone have to pay the bills with intrusive advertising now when they didn’t before? If YouTube originally had ads IN or BEFORE the videos, it would be just as unpopular as all the other video sites, and it would have never grown the massive user base that greedy baby boomer investors and marketers now salivate over. There is a reason young people latched on to YouTube…it offered something other than the “60% content and 40% marketing” formula that insults us from the television screen. Make no mistake- too much advertising and the real YouTube will soon be remembered as a historical curiousity; a good idea and an interesting phenomenon spoiled by greed. Don’t forget that we are here because we are tired of commercials. If YouTube doesn’t understand that or can’t support thier business in that way, then it’s time you guys found a new line of work.”

Analysis:  The comment has some force to it.  YouTube appealed to people because the videos were ad-free, and not filled with pre-roll ads so common on commercial sites.  I believe the commenter’s exactly right that people were/are tired of seeing commercials everywhere they go (except during the Super Bowl). 

But I’m not sure YouTube’s InVideo ads will ruin the original ethos of YouTube.  As I noted above, the majority of videos won’t have these ads.  One reason is for fear of copyright liability:  YouTube knows that inserting commercial ads into user videos that constitute copyright infringement will expose YouTube to a claim for vicarious liability, outside the DMCA safe harbor.  In other words, there are a bunch of unauthorized videos on YouTube posted by users.  YouTube can’t risk profiting from them with commercial ads because that would defeat any DMCA safe harbor defense for YouTube.