It doesn't really matter if Viacom is in or out of a proposed YouTube-wannabe service backed by a consortium of networks.
This has as much chance of surviving as a network television trade association or a new competing service to Nielsen Media Research. Big media companies and broadcast networks rarely get along in any industry-wide effort. Can you imagine them being financial partners or silent partners or marketing partners in a joint video service?
This doesn't have a prayer in working--especially considering it would meld approved network content with that of un-approved, copyright-land-mine-triggering videos. YouTube itself is still going through many copyright problems.
Who will adjudicate among the members of this network group, anyhow? Which network will get top billing on its shows, clips, marketing or promo reels?
It's tough enough to run a business when you have a well-known brand name like a broadcast network. For the networks to place their faith in a future Web site brand name with little value makes no sense.
One can understand the theory that viewers might want just one place to go to for all video. A joint marketing effort might add more marketing weight in helping users to play videos. But the networks aren't equipped to handle the massive nature of a big user-generated content site, or one that marries user-generated content to social networking elements and traditional TV video clips.
The beauty---and detriment--of YouTube is that, unlike with a traditional network, much of it is in the user's hands.
Perhaps the tell-tale sign is who pulled out of this rival YouTube venture: Viacom, home of the MTV Networks. MTV Networks, the longtime cool place of edgy entertainment and culture, should have been at the forefront of the digital age in terms of either a YouTube or a MySpace. In both cases, MTV missed the boat.
But at least Viacom got it right this time around. A joint Web area controlled by the big old-line traditional networks will be fraught with logistical, as well as structural, problems.
The key words in that last sentence are "traditional," "logistical," "network" and "structure"--four words that should be foreign to the ears of the young entrepreneurs of the Internet business.