NBC and News Corp.'s Very Clever YouTube Killer

Heather Green

For the most part when people started talking about the old media folks creating a YouTube killer, the belief was that they would get it wrong. Turns out that the naysayers didn't give Hollywood enough credit for learning some new tricks.

The new service that NBC and NewsCorp announced today is very very clever. Rather than trying to do the much lamented portal play, they enlisted all the folks who have ill will towards YouTube to create a massively distributed service for their videos. Yahoo, AOL, MSN, they will all be hosts for the video. And so, apparently will you and me and other Web sites, mimicking the distribution strategy that YouTube pioneered.

Jeff Jarvis is exactly right that this could stumble if they don't allow folks to upload their own videos and if indie content creators are nixxed out of this. But YouTube has already shown with its other deals that you can come up with a system that allows you to simply replace what folks upload with better copies of the same clips and make viral uploading even more powerful.

Update: Having listened to the call and jabbered with collegues in the hall, my feeling still is that this is clever, but it definitely faces an uphill battle. Getting all of the major content players onboard will be key. But my takeaway is that the thing to watch is who has control. No not of the content, this demonstrates to me that's not the point. But of who sells the advertising, who gets to experiment with what ad and pay per download models work.

For me, it comes down to whether the existing aggregators get to decide the fate of content, turning it into a commodity. Scott Karp has a great post on this and it's exactly the issue I have been thinking about for quite a while.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.