Every time the RIAA or MPAA file a lawsuit, they’re only proving their intellectual bankruptcy. You sue to protect your rights when you haven’t figured out any other way to make money. The TV networks and TiVO this week are looking like they’re smarter than the movie or record businesses.
When YouTube made stars out of SNL’s Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell by carrying the show’s wonderful "Lazy Sunday" clip, NBC threatened a lawsuit, never mind the spectacular publicity bump for the net and the show. Now, well aware of YouTube’s buzz-making power, NBC’s cutting a deal that will let put ads for NBC on YouTube and let the site carry NBC promos. The network continues to threaten Bolt.com for doing the same thing as YouTube. From the WSJ:
The network’s demand that "Lazy Sunday" be removed indicates that "NBC doesn’t really get it," says Luke McCormick, a 23-year old Bolt staffer. "Having clips of its shows up on [the Internet] was the only thing that was going to get anyone our age to watch ‘Saturday Night Live….(Mr. McCormick is the son of an NBC Universal executive. Doug McCormick is the chief executive of iVillage, a women-focused social networking site NBC Universal bought earlier this year….)
On the one hand, it’s hard to take issue with NBC. The stuff is their’s, after all. On the other hand, there are millions of people (myself among them) who would never have seen "Lazy Sunday" and probably would not have tuned into SNL to see what was up these days. YouTube’s demo is what NBC wants; might it have been better in the long run to just let it go?
"These viral sites are interesting to us in instances before a show becomes an asset and we are trying to expose it to people," says John Miller, NBC’s chief marketing officer. "Once something becomes a hit it’s a different story. Our interest here is generating revenue for ourselves."
Guess that settles that.
Speaking of digital media business models, how about TiVO? For a while, it was looking like the only household gadget with two broadband connections (cable and Net) couldn’t figure out a plan. Now they have: TiVO generated content.Not what you’re already finding in the 1000-channel universe, but expert-generated filters and recommendations and content from the Web. From the WSJ:
Starting today, TiVo said subscribers will be able to access video clips from the National Basketball Association, New York Times Co., the female-oriented Web firm iVillage Inc. and others through a new service called TiVoCast, available at no extra charge.
Among the content that will be available in the next few weeks: videos showing parenting tips for new mothers and multimedia reporting from New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof…
Last month, the Alviso, Calif., company struck a deal with Brightcove Inc., a closely held firm that markets a service that allows companies to distribute video online. Under the deal, Brightcove will give its customers the option of making their content available through TiVo.
And ABC has given up trying to charge advertisers for DVR viewership. Right now, ratings are based on the number of people who were tuned in to a show when it actually airs. (We won’t ask how many of them were actually paying attention.) ABC floated the idea of counting DVR viewers — not just TiVO viewers, but the ones using cablle-system based DVRs. From Variety:
But the issue of "live plus" ratings promises to get more rancorous as DVRs explode in the marketplace. About 12% of U.S. homes have such a device today; by the end of the year, it is expected to be closer to 20%, making those viewers even more difficult to ignore.
Twenty percent is a lot, especially when you realize that TiVO knows perfectly well what its customers are watching — and can even tell which bits they watch over and over. Even the ads. Even Janet Jackson. ABC didn’t win this fight this year, but you’d better believe they’ll win it next year or the year after.