YouTube is still looking for the premium video streaming answer. It's a big oil tanker that needs a fast marketing turn -- something very difficult to make happen in a sea of quick speedboats.
Right now consumers still think of YouTube as a bargain bin, like Wal-Mart. Mark Cuban, Internet pioneer (and now benefactor of an eye-opening four-game sweep for his Dallas Mavericks over the Los Angeles Lakers) said as much: YouTube is still a bargain; the price is right.
YouTube is slowly evolving into a film rental business, and as such will need a new big-time brand marketing push. But so far the mostly user-generated content site and its parent, Google, have mostly eschewed such high-level marketing efforts -- save a couple of Google big TV brand moments, like in the Super Bowl.
Quick consumer perception gives the different-and-clearer nod to Netflix -- even though it doesn't always offer current movie and TV content, though it cost consumers $7.99 a month.
This contrasts with the overwhelming consumer perception that YouTube is still a place for undiscovered Katy Perry and Justin Bieber videos -- essentially free. You get what you pay for. More likely, if YouTube wants to compete with Netflix, it needs to launch a new sub-brand name -- GoldPlatedTube, TonierTube, etc.
Real old-fashion television isn't dying. Consumers go to traditional networks because they deliver content in real time. Marketing tells them that.
That said, YouTube still commands tremendous attention_ from entertainment consumers. That's the drug Google still lives on. The question is, "How does one rehab these viewers?" The answer isn't about who has the "freshest" content. That would have Netflix taking a backseat. For these consumers, it comes down to too much entertainment stuff. They are in no rush for entertainment consumption.
Throw in ease of use, ease of accessibility on any platform, and simple-to-understand pricing concepts. That's Netflix's trick. YouTube isn't at this level. Can they get to higher ground, or are they destined for a blue-light special (Aha! K-Mart reference!)
Has Wal-Mart ever decided to take on high-fashion or pricier merchandise? That's not in its DNA -- or if it did there were some valuable lessons learned. _____________________________________________________________________________________________
Clarification: Yesterday's TV Watch, "OWN The Good And The Bad, Then Move Ahead," mentioned that Christina Norman, former CEO of OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, had been at the job for four months. Norman was actually involved in the start up of the network for two and half years; OWN officially launched in January.