March 23, 2007 |
Networks playing together? Online? Together? It can’t be. But it is.
They don’t wanna hang out on YouTube, they wanna live in their own house, a web space yet to be named that will be high in professional, multi-million-dollar television programming and low in sleepy puppies and shopping cart antics.
“They” are NBC Universal and FOX (the latter is owned by News Corp), and they’re the first media houses to give Google the cold shoulder by announcing a vague plan for their own video hosting site – on which they intend to broadcast, or stream, their own shows.
For some reason it’s very hard to foresee such a project taking off.
Advertising, for one, is a tight rope to walk on the Web; particularly if one is mixing together big-budget studio shows with skydiving grandmas. It’s not impossible to make it all work, but we wouldn’t want to count on companies like NBC and FOX to make that ship sail smoothly into a sunset of success and profitability. Which they’ve already attained, by the bye.
If things start to look on the up-and-up, competing interests start to conflict with one another. NBC’s sitcoms and dramas compete with FOX’s American Idol and the network’s own serial jaunts, and neither will agree on “product placement” when the boards of companies involved start to remember that they want to make money and achieve higher ratings than the other guy.
Meanwhile, Google – if locked out from hosting any popular media from the major content owners – will likely start to shun the big houses from its engine in response to the freeze out, and invite independent directors to forgo the Big Media deals with offers of cheap distribution and more generous ad revenue percentages (at the start, of course). The proliferation of independents helps all parties when all is said and done, but a lockout by Google hurts the locked while barely bruising the locker.
Viewers are not making an exodus from YouTube to more copyright law-abiding hosts (of which there are none), nor will they. The public is well aware of the need for an overhaul to copyright, and won’t get played by Viacom and the rest.
In addition, only a small slice of consumers stationed in front of computers will sit through an ad-injected ½- to 1-hour episode of Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, or Family Guy (well, Family Guy may be an exception). Short 5-minute-or-less clips remain the cream of the crop for Internet video. Thus if YouTube maintains its traffic, it will be the digital land where the most popular videos reside. Simple as that.
And NBC and FOX can forget about forcing another LonelyGirl15 on us.
Overall, the NBC-FOX project seems like a bad idea before its doors have even opened. Sure, we’ll give a fair shake when it shows its face. But it’s doubtful that “brilliant” and “wonderful” will be escaping our fingers when it does.