NBC Universal has started a venture with its affiliates, National Broadband Co. (NBBC), which will market small, somewhat inconsequential, short-form video from the NBC network and TV station local news clips to Internet, syndication, and other media retailers.
Does this smell like the harbinger of a bigger revenue-sharing iTunes deal for shows like "The Office?"
NBC says, have your nose checked.
This doesn't mean anything--certainly not in response to a deal make recently by Fox and its affiliates for revenue-sharing Fox's big prime-time shows, when those shows run on Internet sites and elsewhere.
Terry Mackin, outgoing NBC affiliate board chairman and executive vice president, Hearst-Argyle Television, told The Hollywood Reporter: "This is a different business. This is aggregating video from 230 affiliates, including the owned-and-operated stations. This includes the NBC Universal library, and this includes user-generated content up to the national level."
User-generated content? You are right Mr. Mackin; this is a different business. We all want to know where the market is online for a news clip from Madison, Wisc., or some weird skateboard accident generated by an NBC viewer in Knoxville. It seems like this is already available--for free.
NBC may be playing it cool in the big, bad new iTunes world of TV--and why not. When your network is not exactly in the best negotiating position with your affiliates, due to your last place standing, it's not the time to give away the store. You'll regret that move if and when you ever return to No. 1 status.
Mackin says the market for NBBC "could be anybody who doesn't have access to video who wants to buy it and access it."
Who doesn't have access to video these days? Prisoners? Long distance runners... on the run? A very analog independent station in market number 232 that colors its own pixels?
NBC says this is about a business-to-business market. And that, since lot of this video is library product long paid for, the marketing costs are low. Still, we wonder how this serves the marketplace in a world in which video content is rising exponentially every minute.
NBBC sounds like a slip of the tongue. Hopefully, the sales pitch will translate more smoothly.