YouTube wants best of both worlds, but is getting neither
Google’s probably wondering why it bothered. YouTube is causing it a major headache, which it should have seen coming.
According to the Washington Post the company is trying to shore up content deals with providers like MTV and NBC, but is finding it hard because of the illegal content on its site.
At the same time, the great USP of YouTube is the ease with which people can get this illegal stuff. The BBC’s content deal this week is all well and good. But it’s all behind-the-scenes stuff and archive clips. What people want is last night’s EastEnders and Casualty. There’s a danger YouTube’s desire to get ‘proper’ content on its site will kill off its appeal.
I think this is probably just a transitionary phase though. Content owners will be happy to show real videos on YouTube when they get given a sizable sum of advertising revenue. If YouTube hosted EastEnders (with adverts) and the Beeb took 50%, they’d probably be pretty happy. So would I. As much as I don’t want to watch EastEnders, I’d be glad to see BBC programmes available 24/7. Their iPlayer seems destined to land some time around the next lunar eclipse at this rate.
The opportunities for companies like the BBC would be incredible. Shows that currently get six million viewers could be seen by ten times that number.
But the big ‘What If’ in the room is whether YouTube’s going to lose its street cred as it becomes all corporate and legal. If it wants to kill off the linear channel as we know it, it needs to act professional while still feeling like the naughty little kid of the internet.