Joint Network YouTube Competitor Looking Unlikely

Posted on December 23, 2006

A Variety article points out it wont's be very easy for the big media networks to agree to work together on a YouTube competitor. It is also says the rumored joint network YouTube killer plan is starting to fall apart.

The holy grail is youth-skewing Internet programming, and all the congloms said they were willing to work together to come up with a solution. On Tuesday, Viacom exited the discussions.

Getting several big media companies to work together on any joint venture is an uphill battle. But doing it in the fast-moving and risky Internet space appears to be nearly impossible.

Nonetheless, for the past couple of months, most of the congloms have been trying to put together a plan for a Web site that would let them control the online destiny of their videos, rather than allow the mega-powerful combination of YouTube and its new parent company Google to determine their fate.

That the talks will ever come to fruition became significantly less likely Tuesday, after Viacom exited the discussions along with its valuable collection of youth-skewing cable programs. Disney is already out, Time Warner isn't believed to be taking part, and CBS is said to be iffy on the prospects, leaving only News Corp. and NBC Universal definitely interested in making a deal happen.

Jeff Jarvis talked to a media executive who suggested that the idea that the networks launching a YouTube competitor could be a negotiating ploy.
But I also had lunch with a smart media exec who shrugged at all this news about an attempt to start TheirTube: "If there is..." he said. In other words, it could just be a negotiating ploy vs. Google and YouTube.
The tv networks want to tease online viewers with clips and free shows because it helps build the overall viewership to sitcoms, talk shows and news programs. They would like to this on their terms and on their own websites but they probably aren't going to be able to do without a popular video sharing website. Instead they will have to go to YouTube where they can test video clips and try and generate interest in new and ongoing programming. NBC and CBS are already there. ABC will probably have a channel eventually.

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