Viacom – Killing a golden goose?

That Viacom is suing GooTube for $1bn is old news – a great opening shot in the negotiating battle to come, but old news.

The thing I don’t get is, why would Viacom bother? One of the podcasts I listen to is Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code. On each episode, he plays (at least) a couple of podsafe music tracks – independently produced music, which often puts “mainstream” artists to shame – and pretty consistently, the artists who have had their tracks played send some feedback to Adam along the lines that after being played they’ve seen an increase in sales of their music.

Robert Scoble recently reported:

To watch my videos you used to have to go to PodTech. Then in January we let go a little bit of our controlling attitude and made a player that you can embed on your own site. What happened?

Traffic tripled.

Read that last bit again – “Traffic tripled“.

A paradoxical, golfing maxim goes something like, “to gain control, you have to give up control”. Which brings me back to my opening question: why would Viacom bother suing YouTube?

If I hear a great tune on the Daily Source Code, I’m driven to go and buy it; if I hear enough good stuff from that artist, I might buy/purchase/spend my hard-earned cash on more material. If I’m browsing YouTube and see one clip that makes me laugh, I might look for another clip featuring that same comedian; and then another. If I see enough funny material from one show, guess what? I might actually tune in to the entire show on TV week after week.

YouTube gets a lot of eyeballs. Somewhere along the line, that must translate into increased viewing figures of the full-length versions of the very clips that Viacom is looking to have removed. I don’t work in the media business so this might be stupid question; increased viewing figures is a good thing, right?

So, why strangle a potential revenue stream?

[tags]Google, YouTube, Viacom, copyright, lawsuit[/tags]

2 Responses

  1. Renny
    Renny March 20, 2007 at 10:27 pm |


    What about when whole episodes are posted, so there is nothing else to sell beyond the YouTube video? Because that definitely happens.

    I think Viacom is walking a fine line, but I support them on this. I think online video is ready to really explode, bigger than YouTube. I’m talking full-on,so-called cable-bypass delivery of content. But for this to happen, content creators need to know their material won’t be massively pirated.

    I have a feeling if YouTube is cleaned up, we’ll see a bunch of other YouTubes, more exciting and with more content.

    And, legal.

    – Renny

  2. andrew
    andrew March 21, 2007 at 7:32 pm |

    Renny – thanks for the comment, and for posting that link. Your point about about more exciting content is well-made, but at the same time, I think Viacom are coming across as being very short-sighted (in the now familiar “old-media” sense of the term).

    It’s not that I don’t support their right to protect their content, but if were Viacom, I’d be looking at how I could exploit the interest in the content that appears on YouTube, rather than kill it off.



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