NBC And News Corp Step To The Edge Of The Internet Pool: Who Gets Pushed In First?

Start your stopwatches -- and wait for the first NBC Universal/News Corp grumblings to start.

Hollywood and other entertainment industries are rife with failures when it comes to business consortium deals. Bickering, control issues, and name-calling are always part of the postmortem when it comes to entertainment partnerships.

With that background, you can’t help but wonder how two mega-media companies such as NBC Universal and News Corp will make nice with each other when it comes to starting up a big-time TV programming Internet service -- while at the same time continuing to fight tooth and nail for dominance of the traditional TV airwaves.

It’ll all work if the two companies aren’t vying for the same TV or film producer, the same film or TV script, or the same digital company that both want to acquire.



In the past, music companies failed to come together in offering up alternatives to the likes of Napster. Only Apple’s iTunes Music Store has put together a plan that works for the music companies collectively. Theatrical film producers have also tried their luck in working together  -- but haven’t made much of a dent with the Internet movie download service, Movielink.

Still, maybe we’ll be wrong. Both NBC and News Corp quickly realize the threat of the YouTubes of the world -- even if they say their new unnamed Internet TV programming service is not in competition with the giant user-generated video site.

Piracy is a big issue, and both NBC Universal and News Corp. don’t want to see the Internet TV business grow any bigger without a safe haven for their content.

That said, it’s hard to argue that the right decisions weren’t made in striking deals with the Internet’s biggest distribution portals -- AOL, MSN, Yahoo, and social distribution site MySpace -- with the obvious exception of Google, owner of YouTube.

News Corp.’s Peter Chernin and NBC Universal’s Jeff Zucker both urge that theirs is a different business -- straight-ahead, regular-looking TV programming, not videos of ladybugs having sex on some guy’s arm.

Give these companies credit -- as opposed to the non-action by the music industry, and the lackluster action by the film industry. These mostly TV-centric media companies are making the big plunge.

The question is whether that splash of water is coming from a flop or a judge’s 10-rated dive.

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