Subversion Has Its Place: Forget the Deal, Use the Platform

People in big media companies sometimes ask me about YouTube and the content conundrum. In short: Should they post their stuff up there, or not? My answer comes back as sort of a koan – yes, of course, do both. Mark Cuban, who is a consistent and very vocal…


People in big media companies sometimes ask me about YouTube and the content conundrum. In short: Should they post their stuff up there, or not? My answer comes back as sort of a koan – yes, of course, do both.

Mark Cuban, who is a consistent and very vocal YouTube critic, points out a few issues as to why. I have to admit, I think he is onto something here. (OK, I don’t always agree with him, but I do always read him…). In short, Cuban says, use YouTube. After all, everyone else is.

There is something almost subversive in using YouTube as a marketing or promotional venue for content that can be found on another site. If you are a big media company, why, don’t just post trailers, post stuff that you create specifically for the YouTube audience. If it gets your knickers in a bunch, don’t post the whole thing (unless of course you have a deal you like). If you don’t (in Cuban’s example – the Oscars- there was no deal), well, use YouTube as the best promotion network ever invented.

If what you post works, Google will be motivated to quickly cut a deal on your terms to share revenues with your content. It’s not like Google hasn’t already proven it’s ready to do so. It’s just that big media companies have been afraid of doing anything until they get a Deal. But, getting a Deal means hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal fees and months (if not years) of wasted time. For now, strengthen your position by using YouTube as a way to promote what you already have. Is that so wrong? I’d be interested in anyone’s opinion saying it is. Because in the end, the answer lies not in some theoretical argument, but in the attention given by the folks watching and reacting to what you post. If they hate what you do, stop doing it and figure out a way to give them what works. If they appreciate it as a way to navigate to your site, why, you’ve won. As Mark wrote:

Rather than sending take down notices, they should be leveraging the technology and medium and making it their own.

Hear hear. YouTube subverted your model, Big Media. Time to subvert it back. YouTube is a platform. Are you using it? Or are you waiting for the Deal? Forget the deal….figure out how to use what’s already there! If you get good at it, well, the Deal gets a lot easier to do.

10 thoughts on “Subversion Has Its Place: Forget the Deal, Use the Platform”

  1. ROFL:

    These are usually FLV files – (do a sort by day and filetype)

    —> Then copy and paste each to a different directory where they will be permanently stored

    —> Then use any of the several online convertors to change them into Quicktime, Windows media or SWF files – and you will share and enjoy them at your will for years (plus they load and play faster) 🙂

  2. Hey John,

    Nice tight post at 87% Coning rate. The trick (as you know) is to keep the thinking tight as the word number goes up!

    Oracep Technologies

  3. Media companies who sign up first will undoubtable get the best deal on YouTube as they have more room for negotiation.

    There doesn’t seem much sense for a Media Company not to publicise its products immediately in the hope of a cutting a deal in the future because your competitors will be reaping the spoils.

  4. Thanks John.
    Only issue is that Gootube isnt supposed to know what works. They are purely a hosting service and by hiding behind the DMCA, they shouldnt be looking at what videos are working or not working. If they do, they could have red flag knowledge of copyright infringement, which would cost them a ton of money.

    As a hosting service, they just host. They have chosen to offer that service for free. Which means that any content company can upload early and upload often, to the point of gaming the search results if they do it every day.


  5. Well said John! Media industry should be finding and exploring as many ways as possible to use the internet to distribute and make interactive their content. Eventually the internet will connect to TV and home theater systems in living rooms across the world. Digital entertainment will be among the most widely used application of the modern computation and information technologies.

    I think for media companies, defensive posture does not work. Instead of sueing Napsters, if they had spend their resources to develop their own media distribution on the internet then DRM would have worked. Media companies would be now raking in a bigger share of digital entertainment business.

    I believe they have learned their lessons. The media companies won’t let these new opportunities went passed by them in video domain as they let it happened in audio domain.

  6. Ha – anybody who disagrees with Mark Cuban about online video markets does it at his peril. The Maverick’s got a pretty good track record with calling the online video shots and I think he’ll be proven right about the challenges of the GooTube deal. My main prediction is that monetizing all these vids at a decent rate is an unattainable holy grail of advertising. Google’s key brilliancy was based on quality ranking and optimal monetizing of text content and it’s not going to translate to video clips.

  7. […] they were brave enough to take the next step — set the content free, and at the same time do what Mark Cuban and John Battelle and others have argued for, and actively, ruthlessly exploit the critical mass […]

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