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Friday, April 9, 2010

A Modest YouTube Proposal

YouTube has been around for a little over five years. It is a popular site for many of us. The amateur nature of it appeals to us and it is a great way to find performances from decades ago, the latest in home made films, political and economic views of uncommon opinion, and work that friends and acquaintances have produced.

In 2006, Google purchased YouTube. At the time, I remember writing to clients and colleagues and mentioning in presentations, that Google would soon monetize YouTube and probably create a whole new product that I dubbed GoogleTube. Well, several years have passed and I am still wiping the egg off my face on that forecast.

Today, I risk more embarrassment and humbly make a suggestion to the uber-smart boys and girls at YouTube.

Virtually overnight, Google could launch a new television network. Maybe they would call it GoogleTube (I don’t give up all that easily!). Google has been a financial phenomenon largely because the company rarely missteps. For nearly four years, however, they have failed to monetize YouTube much and they continue to lose hundreds of millions of dollars annually with it. Yes, Google's pockets are very deep indeed. But, those kinds of losses have to annoy someone. I am certain that some substantial shareholders are not thrilled even with the solid stock market performance of late.

Why a network and how? Well, they have the platform basically set up with YouTube. There are no affiliate relations problems, no brick and mortar to build, no owned and operated stations. Google could fund a number of TV series of varying lengths and content with rounding errors on their cash flow.

How should they do it? A simple solution to me would be to steal shamelessly from the Hulu.com model. Make the network advertiser supported from the day one. People could watch GoogleTube programming where and when they wanted it. Commercial load would be light as is true with Hulu.com

Some advantages:

1) Hulu.com is restricted to the U.S. While the new census is still going on and results will not be out for a while, it is a safe assumption that Hulu.com is ignoring somewhere between 95-96% of the world’s population.
2) From day one, think of the appeal of GoogleTube to brands with a large global presence. The big soaps, Bud, colas, Apple, Nike, Nestle, Kellogg, General Mills, Toyota, BMW and a host of other major brands would love to send out a worldwide message to young English speaking people (and those learning it) quickly and easily.
3) YouTube or GoogleTube would have instant credibility. It would be easy to navigate and hundreds of millions use it now anyway. Over the Easter break, I had coffee with two young Media Realism readers who also are easily my most severe critics. They said YouTube had no credibility as it was an amateur site with home made material. I countered that maybe that would strengthen a change to a name like GoogleTube for the network product. I disagree with them about credibility and feel that 95% of the people would not care. With good programming, the YouTube stigma, if it really is there, would fade quickly.
4) Imagine you are a producer, writer, or actor or actress. Would you like to work with a US network or cable channel or instead have your program fanned out WORLDWIDE from day one? That has to have some appeal.
5) Google is, to put it mildly, well financed. They can give it time to develop and can afford to add new programming quickly. They could even pay amateurs for some content they thought was good or split some ad revenue with them in a meaningful way.

Somewhere at Google they have to be wrestling with the monetization of YouTube. My modest idea of GoogleTube could have surprisingly strong legs.

If you would like to contact Don Cole directly, you may reach him at doncolemedia@gmail.com

1 comment:

  1. There's an interesting video out - shot in Michael Moore style - called "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices" - which adds interesting perspective to this piece. Find it here (also on Netflix): http://www.walmartmovie.com/main.php