February 9, 2007 4:00 AM PST

Viacom moves on without YouTube

Viacom moves on without YouTube NEW YORK--Viacom may not miss YouTube as much as some people think.

Viacom representatives have been quietly telling industry insiders this week that they plan to aggressively promote their revamped ComedyCentral.com Web site. Viacom executives here at the Media Summit Conference won't say exactly what they intend to do, but it's already apparent they plan to put some power behind the promotion.

The company recently began offering so-called embed code that allows fans of popular programs such as the The Daily Show and The Colbert Report to post clips to their MySpace.com pages or blogs. That embed code duplicates one of the more popular features of YouTube: the ability to easily post videos on other Web sites and blogs.

The idea behind the strategy, experts believe, is to find a "workaround" to YouTube. And while Viacom executives say they're not trying to take the Google-owned video-sharing site head on, there's no question that relations between the two companies are chilly. After months of fruitless negotiations, Viacom last week demanded that YouTube remove 100,000 clips that featured the company's television shows or movies.

"YouTube throws down the gauntlet for any television network or content producer to ask, 'Why is it better for people to consume our video on YouTube rather than my site?'" Erik Flannigan, senior vice president of digital media for Comedy Central, said Thursday during an interview with CNET News.com.

"I think it's fair to say Comedycentral.com is a more video-centric site than maybe it has appeared in the past," Flannigan added. "We haven't put videos quite so front and center as they are today."

Viacom's Comedy Central is likely just the start for the embed code, and executives here at the Media Summit entertainment conference said they believe Viacom will likely offer it on other properties, such as the Web sites for Nickelodeon, MTV and Spike TV.

Jon Stewart

That Viacom is essentially encouraging its Web audience to repost its materials is also the latest indication that big media companies are trying to glom onto Internet concepts such as viral marketing and community sharing while still maintaining some control over the shows they create.

InterActiveCorp plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on Internet content, CEO Barry Diller said Wednesday during the Media Summit. He was asked whether he agreed with Viacom's demand that its videos be pulled off YouTube.

"I would have said (to YouTube), 'Let me be clear with you. You are not going to take the stuff that we made in our house and control it for other people," Diller said.

Viacom's tough stand against YouTube, of course, could be self-defeating, because the company's programming receives a considerable amount of free promotion from YouTube posters. YouTube's typically young, tech-savvy and moneyed audience is exactly the type of viewer big media companies want to capture.

The problem is advertising dollars. Some content creators find it galling that other companies are reaping the financial reward of their work and not sharing in that money. That was a contentious point in the YouTube-Viacom discussions.

In fairness, YouTube asks its users to refrain from posting copyrighted material and has promised that it's working on so-called fingerprinting technology that will alert content creators that their copyrighted material has been posted.

But media companies are increasingly skeptical that video-sharing sites will be able anytime soon to create that technology. Earlier this week, the new head of NBC Universal also took a swing at YouTube, saying at a press conference that the Google-owned company was dragging its feet on deploying technology to protect copyrighted material that gets posted to the site.

Nonetheless, some companies have managed to make at least a tenuous peace with YouTube. CBS, Sony BMG and Universal Music Group have all struck partnerships with YouTube that allow the video-sharing site to feature clips from their TV shows, films or music videos.

Those who have spoken in private with Viacom executives say the company understands that YouTube has helped expose their shows to new viewers. But they believe the viral nature of the Internet itself offers alternatives to YouTube.

By allowing people to post their shows on their MySpace pages and blogs, Viacom is convinced it will generate just as much interest in funny snippets from the company's shows as someone posting a clip on YouTube.

"We definitely feel that video on the Web is a huge tool," Flannigan said. "It drives word-of-mouth discussion about a show."

Offering the embed code also allows them to generate advertising revenue, and some of the clips on Comedycentral.com already feature 30-second advertisements.

"They get a chance to upsell their other shows to people," said an executive at an Internet company familiar with Viacom's plans. "They can keep people coming to their own site, which is valuable."

Flannigan wouldn't provide details on whether other Viacom sites would begin offering embed codes.

"I do think you'll see us go further with this with our other shows," he said.

See more CNET content tagged:
Viacom Inc., YouTube, media company, conference, Google Inc.

13 comments

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Better to AD then take away
If Viacom wants so be in innovative then stop taking away and worrying about other websites. People get the wqrong impression. Web people like a hpappy freidly company so they thehn get very [popular.
Make your site better, smoother, more savvy and add the posting TAGS so people can ADVERT your show around the web. Forget about what YouTube does.
In fact if y'all are striking partnerships with YouTube how about insuring the video quality (reception) is really high over there too.

Thanks
Posted by Blito (436 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Includes Chappelle videos?
Will he quit real life to come back to the internet?
Posted by Lite Rocker (42 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How's a guy supposed to get the Series of Tubes video?
That clip is a national treasure.
Posted by shoffmueller (236 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How's a guy supposed to get the Series of Tubes video?
That clip is a national treasure.
Posted by shoffmueller (236 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I swear
I hit "Submit My Reply" only once, but it still double-posted my comment. Grrrr.
Posted by shoffmueller (236 comments )
Link Flag
Viacom = not so bright
First, I'd point out that not all of the 100,000
videos Viacom asked YouTube to pull are
Viacom's. Quite a few people have been upset to
find their own personal video posts -- copyright
by them and containing no content from another
party -- have been yanked from YouTube in
response to the Viacom request.

Second, Viacom is shooting themselves in the
foot. By "opting out" of YouTube exposure, they
are taking their content away from where people
search for it; and they are largely removing
accessibility to search engines. Further, they
take on the mantle of providing the content (the
transcoding, storage, maintenance, bandwidth and
site design) all at cost to them. And in some
instances offer videos with peculiar codecs that
some platforms have issues with, and more
frequently provide sites with botched
JavaScript, HTML, or CSS that frequently renders
poorly or cuts off parts of the video.

"'Why is it better for people to consume our
video on YouTube rather than my site?'" --
Because it's a centralized place to search,
because they're tagged and rated, because your
site takes forever to load, because it doesn't
have as many clips, because people can't comment
on the clips or make cross-references to other
clips, because you can't search by topic across
other videos, and the list goes on.
Posted by FellowConspirator (397 comments )
Reply Link Flag
viacom w/o you tube
I once had "The Daily Show" on my "My Yahoo" page, but removed it. Why? There were occasional problems with loading & playback in the beginning, but I could usually eventually get a decent viewing in a reasonable amount of time. Then came the new, improved version. More often than not, I could not even get to the "Mother-Load" screen. When I finally did, it took forever to get to the clip, which almost never ran properly if it ran at all.. So much for Viacom doing a good job on their own. They didn't shoot themselves in the foot; the took out both kneecaps.
Posted by Bob H in NPR (39 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why would Viacom care about YouTube?
Are these viewers really the target audience anyway?
Posted by HandGlad2 (91 comments )
Reply Link Flag
filtering
good story with a substantial error. Filtering is not hard and is getting easier. It is MUCH easier when filtering videos as they upload, then having to check the entire site each day to see if there is anything new. Audible Magic, gracenote, auditude, Thomson, Phillips all have effective automated solutions. Problem is simply that the studios do not believe youtube has any incentive to implement the technologies. In fact, Chad Hurley said in last Friday's NY Times that they are ready to filter - but only if you have a deal with them. Kind of "if you won't sell it, I'll take it"
Posted by pixelm (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Who needs You Tube.
OK, I need You Tube for the traffic it brings to my sites, but I am an individual with a budget of zero for promoting my work. Viacom aren't.
Anyone thinking of piling in and telling me how You Tube is the future of entertainment should first ask themselves "how many fart lighting videos does an intelligent person need to see?"


<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://greenteeth.blog.co.uk/main" target="_newWindow">http://greenteeth.blog.co.uk/main</a>
Posted by boggart (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You tube only stands to help Viacom. Duh, Viacom might notice that video quality on youtube flash video is terrible. If someone watches a video clip from a you tube video dont you think they might go out and buy the whole video in real high quality dvd. Not to mention if they watch a 2 minute clip from a you tube video they might want to buy the whole movie on dvd in its 2-4 hour format.

Hello Viacom Wake up
Posted by politix (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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