I recently met the CEO of hip-hop video destination site SandboxTV, Manu Lawrence, a dreadlocked fellow who, in the course of conversation, used many interesting terms that I was not familiar with. "Co-opetition" was my favorite. I figured it was some form of radical slang. What would I know -- I'm a 55-year-old, Caucasian male, who is married, lives a sylvan existence, has a son who just graduated from elementary school and a golden retriever. Instead, it turns out that the term was originally coined by a Harvard professor, Raymond Noorda, and later expanded upon in the 1996 book "Co-Opetition" by Adam Brandenburger and Barry Nalebuff. You've got to love a guy who can back up his terminology with sources, dates, authors and title.
According to the encyclopedia of free commerce, as quoted by Manu, "Co-opetition is a term combining the words cooperation and competition, and refers to the arrangement between competing firms to cooperate on specific projects or in certain areas of business for mutual benefit, even while remaining competitors in general."
What a perfect term to describe many of the recent deals that have taken place amongst mortal media enemies. To name a few: NBCU and News Corp.'s joint venture to create a broadband video destination YouTube-buster. Digital radio satcaster XM's carriage agreement with broadband music destination AOL. Cable systems operator Comcast retaining online portal Yahoo to sell display advertising and video ads on its site, Comcast.net. ABC Broadcast Network airing episodes of the cable network USA's hit prime-time show "Monk" days after they air on the cable network. ABC making its hit prime-time series "Grey's Anatomy," "Lost," "Desperate Housewives," and "Ugly Betty" available for Apple's iPod. Google selling digital satellite platform EchoStar's inventory. Google selling audio ads on 675 Clear Channel radio stations. CBS entering into a long-term deal with video destination Joost for non-exclusive rights to air its programming -- yet retaining advertising sales. CBS Interactive Network distributing its programming through AOL, MSN, CNET, Comcast.net, Bebo, Brightcove, netVibes, Sling Media, Akami, Veoh, Yahoo, iTunes, Microsoft's Xbox, Amazon UnBox as well as wireless deals with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and Qualcomm's MediaFlo. Newspaper publisher McClatchy's defection from a national online advertising partnership with Tribune and Gannett to join a rival group of publishers, who are in cahoots with Yahoo.
Makes sense to me. Hope it makes cents for them. Co-opetition.