Certainly you can understand surface-wise where they are coming from – they look at the video sharing sites online and think, they are making money off our backs … well, technically the backs of backs of the writers and performers but lawyers can only see so far – why aren’t we doing that?
So, in the next few months, they are launching [INSERT NAME HERE] to battle Google (GoogleVideo & YouTube) or as they put it, “NBC Universal and News Corp. Announce Deal with Internet Leaders AOL, MSN, MySpace And Yahoo!”
[INSERT NAME HERE] is not a joke – they are so sure of themselves they are launching without a name – after all if “serious” companies can launch with names MOO! or CALGOO or TUNGLE right out of Fisher-Price product lines, how hard can it be for NBC, GE & News Corp lawyers to okay an name?
I’m sure it’ll be catchy – something like 30thNBCCentury – of course, the legal entity will be NBCFOX30thCentury but they’ll compromise on the ‘public’ name in the name of everybody gives in a little. Since Fox is in Century City and NBC is in Burbank, they’ll open new offices in Westwood or West Hollywood – just about halfway in between.
But that’s just the easy part – here is where they will fail:
1) Jeff Zucker, the current CEO & Chairman of NBC has no clue. He watched NBC slip from #1 to #4 by championing shows such as “Joey,” “Father of the Pride.” While GE will promote him because it’s the safest solution, Rupert Murdoch already knows that Zucker peaked as Exec Producer of the Today Show.
2) GE & Murdoch couldn’t agree on what to have for lunch, let alone a cutting-edge company made of 90% lawyers. Partnerships between huge corporations just do not work – partnerships between two sister companies rarely ever work – you think GE or Murdoch will actually give in, give up “secrets” or reach concensus on anything? No, there will simply be a lot of meetings and eventually compromises – how many great companies and products are compromises? Think Pontiac Aztek.
3) Two companies working togther is like grafting another limb to your body. Everyone is convinced the other side is wasting money. You know how tough it is in corporate America to see through a ‘good idea’ because there are always people who want to maintain the status quo because it’s easier to cloud good ideas than to watch them succeed and have you lag behind? More so with corporate partnerships – bottom line is when a good idea succeeds, the question you are asked is “Why are we sharing 50% of our revenue, we could run with this idea by ourselves!”
WB & Viacom merged two comedy networks into Comedy Central which did not take off until WB sold out because the thinking is very simple, “Why should we share ay good ideas or concepts?” (when we can sell it at 100% of the profit?)
Is NBC going to post a HEROES clip unavailable elsewhere on this new site or at NBC.com? Or at both so NBC.com marketing and this new entity BOTH wonder why they have to share?
4) Corporate “Viral” Video Clips. Each of the words in that phrase are like natural matter-antimatter repellents AND with the same destructive force. You can have corporate video clips and you can have viral clip but the two do not mix – it will simply blow up in your face.
5) Corporations cannot run “social communities,” as soon as they are bought – dead. GeoCities, iFilms, MySpace, etc … why? Lawyers. Just like Viacom lawyers killed off all the Star Trek fan sites – their crime? Posting stories and photos and gushing about the show they love. Viacom lawyers killed off most of the sites – so now, where is Star Trek on the buzz meter? Somewhere south of Quark. George Lucas may not remember how to direct movies anymore but he’s smart enough to let fans have their fun with very few limitations. So Starwars manages to bring in new fans – can you honestly say the last three Starwars movies were that much better than the last three Star Trek projects? They don’t really get the internet at all. They are not visionaries – they are bureacrats and lawyers who like to have everything written out so they can cite it. It’s easier to believe the Earth is falt and you will fall off at the edge because the Earth being round holds too many unanswerable questions – like they say of lawyers that they do not like to ask any questions they don’t know the answer to – same thing applies here. The internet is constantly shifting. It’s much easier to try and say it’s flat and think, everyone will come back to us.
6) Lawyers – they will pore through every clip – making sure no one is offended, no one can sue for copyright and really, no will can have any fun. You don’t need to go far – just to go Viacom’s iFilm site and look up “viral” clips posted for upcoming MTV & VH1 shows – there are videos on YouTube where a woman is holding a cat silently for 5-minutes that are 100% more entertaining than the clips “they” have chosen for us. But they are optomistic – every clip has a DIGG IT button – bwahaha … Like iFim, it will be held back by DRM and non functioning features because you need to watch an ad, click here and then watch in its entirety. No downloading EVER.
7) 100% Fake Promotions – They will pick clips that present the show in its best light that meet with the approval of marketing, promotions, produceers, directors, actors, actor’s talent agency, actor’s manager & research. By the time a clip is vetted by the lawyers and the 19 sign-offs, we’ll wonder why 30THNBCCENTURY is posting a “JOEY” clip.
8) Are You In or Out? – They will use this to promote “stars” they want to and try and kaboosh the stars they are in a tiff with. Everything wil be peaches and cream until the actor wants to re-negotiate and their clips will magically disappear … or if a costar is getting all the funny lines and clips, the star will demand that those clips be pulled or pushed to page 17.
9) We Don’t Need Them. If we want to watch professional TV, we need broadcast & cable networks but to post clips online? We need them like we need internet access through our toilet bowl. With the amount of cheap/near free or even free webspace on the internet, I can launch a web serving site in minutes. Sure, everyone knows YouTube but if we sat down, we could probably name 50 video sharing sites – there is ZERO compelling reason to visit them. Then it circles back to Reason #3 & 10.
10) If you’re at NBC or at Fox, you cannot deliver anything of real value to this new entity. It’s like divorcing your wife and marrying your nanny. Nothing you say or do will explain, placate or resolve ANYTHING going forward. You are branded forever as “that guy” who doesn’t know where his bread is buttered. As a “30THNBCCENTURY” employee, you are not really “us” but “them,” so why should we help you? NBC.com, Fox.com and even MySpace are 100% theirs – it’s blood, it’s family – anything going outside the family is a not-quite kosher – you are always treated as an outsider and held at arm’s length. If you have a “24” or “Heroes” exclusive clip, who gets it – everyone – so everyone is ticked off? If it is just placed at NBC.com & then the other entity wonders – why are we spending $100 million as your partner when all you give us are JOEY clips?
Yes, they will hold meetings and they will eventually come up with a name (and of course, miss out that in Portuguese, it means ‘crap.’) and this thing might even launch but they’ll be just as successful as all the main portals and websites they tried to launch during the internet 1.0 – it will get $70 million in network promotion, how can it fail? It will.
This follow-up by Google on Viacom’s copyright lawsuit is worth reading.