Google (GOOG ) and YouTube are dangling nine-figure sums in front of major programming and network players—that is, the Time Warners, News Corp (NWS )s, and NBC Universals of the world. Google calls these monies licensing fees, according to executives who’ve been involved in the discussions. But some of them characterize the subtext like this: Don’t sue us over copyrights. Take this (substantial) payment, and trust us to figure out how we’ll all make serious money once we get advertising and revenue sharing worked out.
The offer, and YouTube’s rapid rise, force the titans of a time past to make a very big decision quickly. If you’re a network, you can’t ignore YouTube’s reach. (Some 23.5 million unique visitors went there in October.) But if you’re a network, you also believe you can’t give up your stuff lightly. Your copyrights, and insisting on your programming’s premium value, underpin the entire business model.
The questions that matter:
- Are they exclusive to YouTube/Google, so that no other online outlets can have the content?
- Do they include any sharing of ad or future subscription revenue?
- Can the media companies pull their content for breach? And what is breach?!
And on and on…wow, this has got to be the full legal employment act for most of the media counsels around the country right now.