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800 lb Gorillas vs. 200 lb Gorillas – Google Picks its Battles

By | March 17, 2007 10:22 am

What would you do if you were Google? (Imagine that thought for an instance!)

I don’t mean in size or capitalization, but just as the newish owner of a social networking website that specializes in video. I mean of course the difficult newly-adopted child, YouTube.

Consider that you’d purchased, for $1.65 billion, the upwardly rocketing newcomer, only to find that with all the added commercial scrutiny your jaw-droppingly enormous deal attracted, it turned out that video – the absolute mainstay of your new possession’s identity – was freshly the subject of ugly copyright disputes with some real BIG guys.

And by big guys I mean enormous media outfits like Viacom and NBC Universal. The trouble has gotten serious in recent days with Viacom filing its & billion suit for damages. Also included in the troublesome scenario have been smaller but still on occasions vitally important players, like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who right after the Oscars ceremony demanded YouTube take down scenes from the trophy-fest – which of course it exclusively owns.

You might consider changing tack, wouldn’t you? Well … softly, softly Google is still trying to negotiate reasonable accommodations with the indispensable titans of the content universe, but at the same time it IS changing tack. It’s concentrating on tying up a broad range of really quite small entities, which in the main could be described as niche purveyors.

Two typical examples … the National Basketball Association with whom YouTube is teaming up to create a new channel where the NBA itself would show authorized clips and where fans could upload short videos showcasing their best moves … and the independent music label, Wind-Up Records, who will stream music videos on YouTube and allow users to incorporate Wind-Up music tracks into their own videos.

Jordan Hoffner, You Tube’s head of Premium and Information Content Partnerships has set up a team dedicated to creating partnerships with such relatively minor entities in the video-production universe, and so far they have concluded some 1,000 deals – with little or no publicity, and certainly no details of the financial arrangements being made public. The partners range from the Sundance Channel to tiny production houses of video. (And just looking at the YouTube home page reveals already participating companies like Ford Models, Ford Motor Company – not to be confused with each other – Hollywood Records, and the YES sports network.)

And just to be clear again, this doesn’t mean that YouTube execs are ignoring the really big video-producers, the ones who can mean such legal trouble, but do control that essential video commodity in such bulk. They have now signed a deal, after all, with the BBC, one of the world’s biggest and oldest content-providers (and how they hate that description!). But it appears to be far from a triumphant accomplishment. Indeed industry insiders are saying the BBC deal isn’t all it was cracked up to be by YouTube, and falls far short of the deals YouTubers have been aiming for, so unsuccessfully so far, with US networks.

Predominantly only short BBC clips are being offered to YouTube visitors, including excerpts from shows like “Spooks,” “Top Gear” and “The Catherine Tate Show” (they’re British – and not known much beyond Britain) as well as the posting of 30 new news clips daily on YouTube – though that is some months away. Advertising, something the publicly-funded BBC has traditionally been forbidden to carry, will be displayed alongside some clips, but only for visitors from outside the UK.

And Google itself won’t be able to take advantage of the new deal – the BBC material is limited to YouTube, since “the Beeb” already has a broader search-based deal with Google’s rival Yahoo.

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Founded in 1998, ECommerce Partners is a full-service, ecommerce and interactive agency headquartered in New York City. Best known for our unique process methodology, we combine Internet expertise, creative talent, and business know-how to help clients across a variety of industries achieve rapid, measurable online marketing results.

True to our motto, "We build businesses, not just websites," we provide large and mid-sized companies with a full range of Internet marketing, website design and ecommerce solutions geared to maximize online revenues.



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