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TV Networks Hope YouTube Mocking Stays As Marketing

Now part of the Google team, YouTube is trying to go legit. Some content providers are demanding it. But TV networks should be careful--they could be shooting themselves in their marketing feet.

Viacom demanded early this week that all that illegal copyrighted content of Comedy Central video like that of "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report," as well as from networks like MTV and BET,  be taken off the site.

Interestingly, at the same time Viacom is demanding this, it is negotiating a content deal with YouTube.  YouTube recently made content deals with CBS and NBC.

YouTube is getting its ducks in a row--something you figured it would have done before striking a $1.65 billion deal to be bought by Google. Last week, YouTube took off 30,000 clips of TV shows, movies and music videos after the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers cited copyright infringement.

This is exactly what Mark Cuban talked about recently--that any buyer of YouTube would need to shed copyrighted video content that YouTubers were illegally uploading (outside what is considered "fair use"). From what industry experts are saying, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is plenty more to come.

As a marketing tool, YouTube gave certain networks and shows a special cachet among its followers.  Now Viacom takes that away--but looks to bring it back, albeit officially. After its deal with YouTube, NBC even made fun of it, with a specially produced spoof of promos for its fall shows.

Given the traffic on YouTube--activity that Google hopes will grow-- it'll be tough for networks to resist a deal.  The question is, how much reshuffling does YouTube need to do to stay out of future copyright snafus?

YouTube users have been natural guerilla marketers for the broadcast and cable networks --passionate messengers of the good, the bad, and the ugly of TV. Will they continue spreading the word when everything is legit?  Or will YouTubers feel slighted and move onto something else?

TV networks should at least take the bad, hoping that YouTubers will continue to mock--because where there mocking, there is marketing.

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