News: Nielson Online reports that YouTube and other video sharing sites have seen a spike of 20% in their viewers since the TV writers’ strike has started. The article speculates whether the spike can be attributed to the writers’ strike or not, as opposed to a more general growth in broadband Internet use. (More)
TV Goodnight Kiwi
According to TVNZ, “Before 24 hour TV Goodnight Kiwi signalled the end of nightly broadcasts. The last airing of this animation was in 1994. Today the characters are regarded as icons of New Zealand culture.” Rest of videos here.
I have just seen the coolest video interface ever made. Once you scroll over, the video images scroll over with your mouse. The look is similar to Windows Vista, only better. You can find it on the Washington Post website, for a new feature called “On Being.” Every Wednesday, the Post will interview people and post their videos discussing life; you can also add your own comment. It’s meant to increase community, aka “social networking” in the Web 2.0 world.
News: Spanish TV channels Telecinco and Cuatro are reportedly negotiating licensing deals with Google to allow some of their popular videos on YouTube. Apparently, they’ve asked YouTube already to remove some unauthorized clips of their shows. (More here)
News: Jake Coyle has a provocative piece about “TV Networks Embrace YouTube Model,” which discusses how more TV networks are trying to incorporate videos created by their fans. According to Coyle, “VH1, currently airing the third season of ‘Web Junk 20,’ will next month premiere the Jack Black-produced ‘Acceptable TV,’ which attempts to fuse TV with the Web. In February, Nickelodeon debuted a two-hour programming block called ‘ME:TV,’ featuring contributions from 10-year-olds. TLC last week began a six-part documentary series, ‘My Life as a Child,’ where children were given cameras to videotape their lives.”
Current TV, which is shown by cable and satellite carriers in some 40 millions homes, utilized user-created content in “pods” even before YouTube. On the Current TV site, you can upload your own videos and ads for the network.
Analysis: One day, we should expect to hear that one of the big networks — ABC, CBS, NBC, or Fox — has gone with some user-created content. It’s a natural progression from reality TV, and, since the networks seem to be running out of original ideas, I think users can fill the creativity vaccuum facing the networks.
News: Washington Post writer Sara Kehaulani Goo has written an article titled “YouTube struggles despite dominance.” According to the article, Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research said, “‘I give them a C-minus [in dealmaking]. When you negotiate with a media company, you have to demonstrate respect for their content.” He said YouTube needed to use more sophisticated technology to prevent the unauthorized uploads, which would in turn help foster more trust between YouTube and the media companies. ‘There is software out there — it’s not perfect, but it’s out there.'”
Analysis: I agree there were a few hiccups in the past month with YouTube. Lost deals with CBS and Viacom, plus rumblings from Universal. But Google CEO Eric Schmidt did seem to right the ship by his public comments. And I still think it’s significant no big media content provider has sued YouTube yet. This may be because, as Scott Kessler of Standard & Poor’s said, “If these companies want to distribute their video content online for free or supported by advertising, they need YouTube more than YouTube needs them.”
News: In a few hours, BitTorrent will launch a new website, where you can rent movies, and buy TV shows, and video games. BitTorrent is famous for its peer-to-peer software (which does allow for illegal file sharing), but, after striking a deal with Hollywood studios, it is developing a a BitTorrent Entertainment Network on its site. The rub is, at least for the movies, you can only get a rented copy that expires in 30 days after purchase, or 24 hours after viewing. (More here)
“Somebody once said you have to embrace your enemy,” said Doug Lee, executive vice president of MGM’s new-media division. “We like the idea that they have millions of users worldwide. That is potentially fertile, legitimate ground for us.”
Analysis: Can’t wait to see the new site. Some question whether “renting” movies is inferior to being able to purchase them outright. My guess is that a significant number of people would be fine with renting a movie, just like Netflix. The difference here is that it takes 2 or 3 hours to download a movie over the Internet with a good broadband connection. That’s still pretty time consuming.
I’m at Villanova University, where I will be speaking on Saturday, 9 a.m., on a panel discussion about “Copyright Robin Hood’s or Ransackers: Will Future Legislation Find Media Distributors to be Merry Men or Merely Theives?”
That’s a pretty long title, but I’m basically talking about YouTube. Representatives from both RIAA and MPAA are speaking, too, so I’m really looking forward to the conference. You can watch the conference live on the Web on the Journal’s site.
News: YouTube agreed to revenue sharing deal with Digital Music Group to show 4,000 hours of old TV shows like “I Spy” from the Group’s library. DMG will get a percentage of revenue from ads appearing alongside its shows. (More here)
Analysis: This is genius. Not to toot my own horn, but I basically came up with the same idea last year when I was talking to a friend about all the many old TV shows that could be revived to generate more income. This deal is just a scratch of the surface. There are so many old shows that are just collecting dust somewhere in warehouses. Why aren’t more copyright holders trying to give these old shows a Second Life on the web?
News: Media mogul Barry Diller has commented on the whole Viacom-copyright issue. I just wrote a lengthy post about YouTube’s intensifying copyright problems yesterday. Diller doesn’t think that any greater content restrictions will happen with video, but instead “everybody’s going to make everything available.” More from Investor’s Business Daily:
“Diller says such pricing and compensation issues eventually will be worked out and that online video content will be freely available. He says online video is such a potentially lucrative business that no one in the media industry wants to stop it. ‘Everybody’s going to make everything available’ when it comes to online video, he said.”
Analysis: This is exactly what I was talking about yesterday when I said video is here to stay. As Cisco CEO John Chambers said, video is the next “killer app.” That’s why many media companies want to get the piece of the action at YouTube, the leader in video–even while some complain about copyright issues. In the grand picture, even those media companies that complain about alleged copyright infringement on YouTube probably see greater financial benefit in the site (at least the potential) than any putative losses from infringement by third party users on YouTube. Diller’s comments are significant in backing the current “open” approach to video. He’s a smart businessman, so I think the smart money would be on his prediction.
UPDATE: Here’s the updated video that aired today on TV. Pretty emotional stuff.
News: On Saturday, SNL spoofed Atlanta Falcon QB Michael Vick’s incident with Miami airport security, who confiscated a water bottle containing a mysterious substance thought, by some accounts, of containing marijuana. In this video that NBC posted on YouTube, SNL came dangerously close to falsely reporting Vick as possessing marijuana. They did start by saying “Michael Vick’s alleged attempt to bring marijuana on a plane,” but the entire joke was based on the factual assertion or assumption that he did have marijuana. However, yesterday, the Miami authorities revealed that the bottle contained no marijuana or traces of any illegal substance. NBC still posted the Saturday Night Live video making fun of Mike Vick on YouTube here.
Analysis: Now that the Miami district attorney has cleared Michael Vick, maybe the joke is on Saturday Night Live. You would think that Saturday Night Live would at least issue some kind of apology or retraction, and take down their video from YouTube. I haven’t looked at libel law recently, but if I were NBC, I would.
News: Zogby International took a survey of 1,203 adults. By a 2-1 margin, adults said they still preferred the news on TV over a “citizen” video of an event. But 83% said they believed 12 year olds know more about the Internet than members of Congress. 66% said the printing press was a more important invention than the Internet. (More here)
Analysis: Fascinating numbers. But Zogby apparently failed to ask the $64,000 question: how many adults prefer YouTube over TV for entertainment. That’s a more important question, in my view, than the news-related question Zogby asked. (Who in their right mind would think that YouTube today is an adequate substitute for news media?)
News: The major TV networks or their parent companies reportedly (according to WSJ) are considering developing their own joint video site to compete with YouTube. Nothing’s definite yet, but at least there have been discussions.
Rick Aristotle Munarriz has doubts about such a venture’s likelihood of success, if attempted, in a wonderfully written article in the Motley Fool. One of the main criticisms is that the TV networks will have a hard time competing with truly user-created content or user-generated buzz for viral videos. The TV networks will be more of a top-down-approach, transplanting parts of their TV shows online, probably with ads that annoy users. But YouTube is more about mash-up, letting users do pretty much what their little hearts desire.
Analysis: Although I share the Motley Fool’s skepticism, I have to say that, in principle, I support the general idea of competition and letting the TV networks put out their own video website. They may be slow to the game, but they have a right to play. Let’s hope they give the fans (meaning users) something they really want.
News: At the ITU Telecom conference, Cisco CEO John Chambers predicted that businesses will follow the YouTube model in facilitating and promoting user generated content. Chambers suggested that we haven’t seen nothing yet in terms of the potential for businesses to foster user created content. “That’s our children – wait ’til we get hold of it. We will change business models on this. In the future it will be about producing it yourself” as businesses develop technologies that serve as collaboration tools. (More from CNET)
Analysis: This is a pretty bold statement from the CEO of Cisco. I would love to see what Chambers says happen. If more businesses develop technologies to promote user created content, that would be great for society. Of course, the new technologies, whatever they are, must allow for sufficient breathing room for users to create their own stuff. Otherwise, there’s a danger that a big business-driven environment for “user” created content will end up being nothing more than big business’s creation.
News: Wired’s December issue is on the newstands and it features YouTube on the cover, with a picture of Lonelygirl15. There are 2 excellent articles, (1) one about the YouTube phenomenon and (2) the other about Lonelygirl15. Wired’s website even has a video of the photo shoot with Lonelygirl15 (actress Jessica Rose).
Analysis: Both articles are great reads. I recommend both if you follow YouTube. One thing I still don’t understand: what exactly was or is the fascination with the Lonelygirl15 character?? I’ve surfed through some of the many Lonelygirl15 videos and yawned.
News: Verizon and YouTube announced a new deal to stream YouTube videos on Verizon cellphones for $15/month. The service, called “VCast,” will offer only a limited, pre-selected number of videos approved by Verizon for content. A YouTube spokeswoman said, “We’ll select content that has the broadest appeal and the highest entertainment value.” (more from NYT)
Analysis: $15 sounds like a really high price tag to me (in addition to high cost of phone service). I haven’t bought a new cellphone recently, but if the quality of streaming images is not that great, I wonder how many consumers will sign up. On the other hand, as cellphones incorporate greater visual capability, the streaming of videos on cellphones seems to be a natural complement to the growing phenomenon of people recording videos on cellphones (as in the UCLA taser incident).
News: LA Times editorial writer Jon Haley has an op-ed piece on Sunday, comparing and contrasting YouTube and MySpace to Napster. Although Haley suggests that YouTube and MySpace are different from Napster because they are websites and have deeper pockets, they could end up like Napster: “The best result would be for Universal and its entertainment brethren to work out a way with MySpace and YouTube to turn people’s enthusiasm for posting songs and clips into a robust revenue stream — assuming that the sites can gin up enough money to make everybody happy. In another parallel with the original Napster, MySpace and YouTube haven’t found a way yet to generate much revenue from advertisers or users. And the longer that remains true, the greater the chance that the companies will meet the same fate.”
Analysis: It’s now banal to compare YouTube to Napster. Mark Cuban did it last month, and I’ve offered all my reasons why I believe he was wrong in all these posts here. So far, I have to say that my position has proven more accurate, given YouTube’s continued, growing business.
I think LA Times writer Jon Haley is barking up the wrong tree when he says that YouTube and MySpace may be different from Napster because they are websites (as if Napster wasn’t) and they have deep pockets. Napster was a website, too; it invoked the DMCA safe harbor as well but was shut down before it even had a chance to take that defense to trial (although it’s not clear it had a DMCA policy in place, anyways). Also, the fact that YouTube and MySpace have deep (parent) pockets could make it more attractive, not less so, for copyright lawsuits.
What Haley is missing (and Cuban as well) is that a growing segment of big corporate America — Cingular, CBS, NBC, Warner Music, Universal Music Group, Sony BMG — sees YouTube as a legitimate business, and a business that can also serve their interests. That’s a key difference betwen Napster and YouTube. YouTube is changing the way corporate copyright holders think about enforcing their copyrights. Here’s what CBS exec David Poltrack stated last week, “When you have something the public really wants, the economic value in that is to come up with a way to satisfy the rights holders and serve the consumers. . . If they’re [consumers] going to steal it, give it to them anyway.”
Of course, I don’t want to overstate the change in the view of copyright holders, or understate the risk of copyright liability that YouTube or MySpace faces. Copyrights still exist, and sometimes (but not always) they give rise to lawsuits. Universal Music is suing MySpace, but not YouTube. The DMCA provides a potential safe harbor for YouTube and MySpace, but, if litigated, the issue will be contested. By the same token, businesses and corporate copyright holders probably understand, more today than they did before, that shutting down Napster was a Pyrrhic victory, that propagated infringement across decentralized, harder-to-detect sites. In the end, the music, movie, and television industries may need a central site like YouTube to prosper just as much as YouTube needs them.
UPDATE: Here’s more evidence to support my theory. Major media corporations are all searching for the “next YouTube.” No one said that about Napster, at least not in a good way.
Truthiness report: Mark Cuban posts hearsay + speculation about Google-YouTube deal, later = near factOctober 31, 2006
News: Mark Cuban ran an “insider’s” post about what went down in the Google-YouTube deal from an unnamed source who claimed to have second-hand knowledge from “people involved” in the Google-YouTube deal, but who openly admitted to be adding some pure speculation. To his credit, Cuban admits that he has done no fact-checking and can’t vouch for the accuracy of the post (although Cuban does trust the source).
Analysis: I think it’s fine for Mark Cuban to blog this story with a disclaimer about its accuracy. But it seems like the old trap of telling a story to one friend, who tells it to another, who tells it to another, etc. By the time the story has traveled around, here, the Internet, it is transformed from speculation to near fact. Now that’s truthiness.
News: Elizabeth Holmes writes today in the WSJ about LX.TV, a website that plans to provide online programs for lifestyle and entertainment for the hip and fashionable. The article is not freely available, but here’s a money line:
“[The founders of LX.TV] hope to capitalize on the recent attention by coupling the Web’s cheap start-up costs and on-demand delivery system with a tried-and-true television formula: Find attractive young people. Put them in front of a camera. Surround them with expensive clothes, throbbing music, potent potables, fashionable nosh and more attractive, affluent young people.”
Analysis: The potential of a web network taking hold is exciting. The start page for LX.TV seems a little slow to load, though. Once I got to the videos, they were pretty slick.
News: Countering some of the recent anti-You Tube press reports, Charles Arthur of The Guardian restores some truth in reporting: “The truth? YouTube hasn’t changed at all, only people’s perceptions or expectations of it. The company states in its user agreement that uploading copyrighted material is illegal, and a similar warning appears before you upload a clip. But of course, fewer than 1% of its users upload anything. No wonder they don’t know. ”
Analysis: One thing I’ve learned over the past month in reading dozens and dozens of news articles about YouTube: there’s a lot of questionable, if not downright bad, “journalism” out there. Legal issues are often reported with a very thin understanding of the law, while a good number of articles tend to accentuate whatever can generate readers — that typically means something bad or dramatic. I hate to sound like some radical or curmudgeon, but it’s sometimes hard to find good journalism in the media. That’s why I think this whole blogging phenomenon has taken hold.
News: Wall Street Journal drama critic Terry Teachout gives a forceful defense here of YouTube, against copyright detractors, all in the name of art and allowing snippets of old footage of great jazz artists on YouTube.
“In recent months, jazz-loving friends have been sending me YouTube links to videos by Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and other celebrated artists, most of them drawn from films of the ’30s and ’40s and TV shows of the ’50s and ’60s. Some of this material is available on DVD, but most of it lingered in limbo until Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, YouTube’s co-founders, made it possible for anyone with a computer to post and view video clips at will. Fascinated by the links unearthed by my friends, I spent the better part of a long weekend trolling through YouTube in search of similar material. When I was done, I’d found hundreds of videos, some extremely rare and all compulsively watchable, posted by collectors from all over the world.”
Teachout recognizes that some of the video clips may be copyrighted, but argues that copyright holders should recognize the benefit of allowing the short clips to be shared. “As any economist can tell you, supply creates its own demand. Disseminating high-culture TV and radio programming for free via the Web is among the simplest and most cost-effective ways to expand the audience for the fine arts. Every time a Web surfer in South Dakota or South Africa views a YouTube video by Louis Armstrong or Arturo Toscanini, he’s making a discovery that could change his life — not to mention his concert-going and record-buying habits. I can’t think of a better bargain.”
Teachout has created links to the videos on this website.
Analysis: Dealing with works that are over fifty years old presents an interesting issue. My guess is that millions of people haven’t ever seen some of these videos, and probably don’t even know they exist. To the extent that brief clips from these older works on YouTube can make them known, Teachout’s argument has greater purchase. I wonder if the copyright holders sitting on all these old videos that are probably collecting dust would think to release at least some of them freely to the public, even before the copyrights expire. Probably not, but it’s worth thinking about.
So you know you have buzz when you are the butt of Saturday Night Live’s jokes. Yesterday was the first Saturday Night Live of the season, hosted by Dane Cook. Dane gave a hilarious monologue that included a bit about YouTube. Unfortunately, I don’t have an exact quote from the monologue. So this won’t sound as funny as it really was.
Dane was joking how YouTube basically has every video in existence. You can pound your fist on your laptop, causing it to hit some gibberish on the screen (like a@/) and you still should be able to find some video with that exact title.
The actual clip is now on YouTube . Sorry, YouTube has removed the clip at the request of NBC because it was not uploaded with NBC’s authorization:
Apparently, FOX News realized that its demand to YouTube to remove Chris Wallace’s heated interview with Bill Clinton from YouTube’s site made no sense at all. Webloggin reports that his and other removed clips of the Clinton interview were restored on YouTube.
As I reported yesterday here, I think it only helps FOX News to have this much-talked-about video surfacing all over the Internet, even on sites that haven’t asked for permission. There’s no better way to create buzz for the FOX News division. And there’s nothing in the Copyright Act that says the copyright owner can’t impliedly consent to such uses.
News: On Sunday, former President Bill Clinton got into an angry verbal joust with FOX News’s Chris Wallace, who questioned his record in going after Bin Laden. Things deteriorated to the point where President Clinton accused Wallace of carrying out a “conservative hit job” on him.
Highlights of the verbal joust were shown on all the networks Sunday night. FOX News put the video up on its website. Eventually, clips made their way onto YouTube and other sites. At some point today, however, FOX News, as the copyright owner, reportedly asked YouTube to remove all the clips of the interview from its site. YouTube did, consistent with its policy of taking down copyrighted content when notice is provided by the copyright owner. YouTube had a message indicating: “This video has been removed at the request of copyright owner Fox News Network, LLC because its content was used without permission.” (More here)
Now, however, it appears that clips of the interview have resurfaced on YouTube. (See here) This suggests either that FOX News had a change of heart and is allowing the clips to be played on YouTube, or other users of YouTube have posted the clips more recently.
Analysis: It’s hard not to be a little bit cynical about the entire interview, on both sides. A lot of hullabaloo is being made over what seems to be a pretty insignificant event from a news or policy standpoint. For what it’s worth, I think FOX News should just let the clips run freely on the Internet. The clip has already aired so much on TV on different networks. It will only help promote their news division to allow the clips to play freely on the Internet.