NEW YORK, November 31, 2008 /PRNewswire/ — The heads of the four major U.S. televion networks today announced the long-awaited unveiling of “OurTube,” a new online video-sharing service where people will be able to legally upload and share any video approved by the media companies for sharing. The service has been in development for more than two years, and promises to take video-sharing to the next level.
“We are thrilled to finally have control over the online video experience,” said the immortal News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, whose body passed away last year, but whose brain still functions so he can direct the media company. “After spending years in litigation with video-sharing sites such as YouTube and MetaCafe, the media companies can now showcase their own work while allowing the average citizen to upload any video that we approve of.”
OurTube’s innovative approach includes a special “Upload Triplicate Form” for any person who’d like to share their video with friends and family. If the person’s video includes copyrighted music or video clips, the user only has to pay the OurTube licensing fee of $199, fill out the patented triple-CC’ed form online that sends alerts to teams of lawyers representing each license holder so they can set up court appearances to settle licensing disputes.
“We’re better than YouTube, we have better content than YouTube, and we’ll pay anyone who uploads their network-approved videos to OurTube instead of YouTube a bounty of $2.50 per video,” said incoming NBC Universal president Jason Calacanis. “It won’t take long for OurTube and its quality user-generated and network-approved content to outpace YouTube’s October 2008 audience of 210 million unique visitors.”
The four major television networks will each own 25% of OurTube, and expect to make money by inserting advertising into various non-intrusive spots, including the site’s home page, sidebars and logo, as well as before, after and during video clip viewing — not to mention product insertion within videos. OurTube users will also have the following premium options:
> $10.95 per month buys you unlimited access to the “Gunsmoke” audio clip library for use in your videos.
> $22.95 per month buys you a “Director” account, where OurTube will guarantee a response to any email question within 96 hours (though a personalized response is not guaranteed in every case). “Directors” will also have the privilege of only having to fill out licensing forms in duplicate rather than triplicate.
> $39.95 per month buys a “Platinum” account at OurTube, giving users the right to criticize network TV programming in their videos, as long as the video is not publicly accessible and can only be viewed by the user.
“The time has come for the media companies to take complete control of the chaotic and wild world of online video,” said Rupert Murdoch’s brain. “Rather than making you suffer through another teen bump-and-grind lip-synching video, OurTube will only show the best of the best content, videos produced by professionals who have years of experience exploiting the masses. Our teens will bump and grind harder and will lip-synch better.”
Yes, the above press release is a spoof of the idea being considered by News Corp., Viacom, CBS and NBC Universal to start their own video-sharing service to take on YouTube. The media companies, like the record companies before them, are flummoxed over how to deal with upstart video sites that allow people to upload videos with copyrighted content. While YouTube provides huge exposure for this content, helping to promote it, the companies are worried they are losing out on a huge opportunity to monetize their intellectual property.
The problem is that four huge media companies launching an Internet venture will move in slow motion, thus the late 2008 launch date in the spoof above. There are more questions than answers: Will they only feature their content? What other content will they allow, and will they screen it or filter it first? How will rights issues be solved? Will people trust them to be democratic in what gets featured on the site?
Bully to Motley Fool’s Rick Munarriz for shooting down the embryonic “OurTube” idea clearly and concisely. He rightly points to the failure of music companies to launch their own downloading sites, MusicNet and Pressplay, because of restrictive rights-management schemes. Here’s the meat of his argument:
The networks want to control their own destiny in cyberspace. There is nothing wrong with trying to cut out the middleman. The problem creeps in when you disregard the value-enhancing powers of the middleman. The networks feel as if they are the ones that made YouTube so popular. The stats tell a different story. Check out the most viewed videos of all time on YouTube, and you won’t find the majors. The site’s top draws have been clips of pets reacting, babies laughing, and folks dancing and lampooning what major media heads think we should consider entertaining…
Come to the table to talk revenue-sharing with YouTube? You bet. Take it on as an enemy, or disregard it as irrelevant without you? The truth may surprise you as to whose irrelevance you may ultimately unmask.
What do you think? Will a major-media YouTube rival have a chance online? How? Or do you think major media companies should work with YouTube to promote their content? Share your thoughts in the comments.
UPDATE: Buzzmachine blogger Jeff Jarvis also thinks the idea of a YouTube-killer from Big Media is wrong-headed and doomed to failure:
They miss the point: You want to be where the viewers are; you can’t any longer expect to force them to come to you. The viewers are on YouTube. Figure out how to exploit that — as CBS is doing, putting its clips up there — and you’ll find a new means of promotion and distribution.