Will the Studios' YouTube Killer Fly?

Rob Hof

It looks like the long-rumored alternative to YouTube will actually happen, as NBC Universal and News Corp. team to provide TV show clips and even full-length movies to a new network slated to launch this summer. Assuming the obviously fluid deal holds, it has to be a blow to Google's YouTube, a significant piece of whose popularity depends on commercial content. But whether the Hollywood folks can avoid stepping on their own feet (people at Google apparently call this partnership "Clown Co."), is far from certain.

That's not the only challenge for the venture. No small part of YouTube's appeal is in fact amateur videos and the ease of posting them. It's something that keeps people coming back and taking some ownership of the site, a dynamic that may not happen with the NBC-Fox network.

If the venture gets some traction, it may face another challenge, one that plays to Google's advantage. Assuming it's more than a marketing site with a few hundred clips, finding videos on the site will soon become difficult. In other words, the site will need good search. YouTube's owner does that pretty well.

UPDATE: This is not just a site but a network of sites that will distribute the videos. Sounds complicated, but my colleague Heather Green, along with Jeff Jarvis, note that it is indeed smart to distribute these videos on other sites, such as AOL, MSN, Yahoo!, MySpace, and apparently many other Web sites in the future. Notes on the conference call from Mike Arrington.

In the end, I still think the studios will have to play ball with YouTube, which isn't going away. It's in their interest--and, let's not forget, in the interest of their fans, too. Assuming that means anything.

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