The BBC has announced that it’s done a deal with YouTube, to put short clips and trailers up on the video sharing site. I actually found out about this last Monday when I visited the BBC, but promised to keep it quiet until the official announcement.
I actually don’t think this was very good deal, and the BBC should have taken notice that most of the other big broadcasters have turned their nose up at this and previous YouTube deals.
In fact, if you read the NY Times article, the BBC has been lumped in as being part of a round of contract announcements between Google/YouTube and ‘small media players’.
Other companies who decided to accept a similar contract to the BBC include the Hollywood Records, YES Network, AskTheBuilder.com and Ford. The only other relatively high-tier broadcaster in the announcement is the National Basketball League, which presumably commands high prices for it’s broadcast rights.
Most of the bluechip broadcasters have avoided putting their clips up on YouTube as even a non-exclusive license dilutes their own efforts to market and display such clips on their own sites. Viacom, which operates MTV and Comedy Central has done well on it’s own sites – finding the sweet-spot of ease of distribution/viralness and appropriate cross-promotion/upsell to full program.
To me, it jars that the BBC would agree a similar deal to AskTheBuilder.com, who have a lot more to gain than the BBC from the exposure and revenue (we’ll come onto that in a moment).
The BBC is going to show trailers and clips on YouTube, rather than bespoke or full-length content. Although YouTube is very good at facilitating the viral nature in which this kind of content can be shared, it’s ultimately promotional material and as such I think the BBC is missing out not getting it’s act together and having a way this can be displayed in a custom BBC-embedded player that can properly link back to the relevant BBC site for the clip. By putting the clips on YouTube the BBC is missing out on a fantastic cross-promotion opportunity by having the clips source directly in the site they originate from.
My guess is that there are no plans, or capacity, to build such a platform and as such doing a deal with YouTube has been decided as an easy way out. Or cop out, as I would call it.
Two concerning factors
The two big issues that arise from this deal are advertising revenue and the waived rights to pursue copyright infringement.
So some of the clips that the BBC will upload to YouTube will carry advertising (for non-BBC products/services). I find this bizarre on one hand because all of the BBC content that’s been announced sounds like promotional content and as such it seems a bit much to have adverts on the adverts! I still don’t see a 5 minute clip of the guy who plays Doctor Who showing you around the production set to be anything but marketing. For me it’s not ‘real’ content.
The more concerning issue is that adverts will be displayed for some clips to users in the UK, and I think that’s an awful concession to make in order to avoid building an in-house system that does this within the BBC. Admittedly the BBC is always under pressure to monetize it’s content internationally, but never domestically within the UK.
The other issue is that the BBC has waived it’s right to sue YouTube for any copyright breaches of BBC material on YouTube. It seems like anytime Google/YouTube do a deal with a media company or rights holder they demand they sign a waiver if they want to play ball with YouTube.
If ever there was an example of “better to seek forgiveness than to seek permission” YouTube is it. I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing.
It was able to establish such a dominance in the market by being turning a blind-eye to the amount of copyrighted video that was uploaded. It’s now able to command many of the media companies get off their backs about copyright as they have just as much to gain as YouTube. It perhaps shows that if broadcasters in general had offered their own well-executed YouTube-like services in the beginning they would have seen a return that more than justified the risk and upfront cost.
There has certainly been the demand, which YouTube is now filling despite the fact it is a bit of departure from it’s original goal of sharing user-generated video.
As I said, overall I’m disappointed in this deal. For me, it’s arguable whether the videos are content or promotion and as such putting adverts on them seem galling, and that’s before you consider the UK license fee payer’s perspective (who should not be seeing any advertising on BBC content).
I really don’t see what the BBC will gain from this deal in the long term, and feel it would be far better off if it built it’s own strategy and well-executed solution for people who wish to share short clips of BBC material on their blogs, webspace and other places. Such demand is not going to go away, and will never be fully catered for to the BBC’s maximum benefit on YouTube.