February 21, 2007
Joost Deal with Viacom Expands Platforms for Content Across the Company's Brands

In the past month, I have written about the expansion of Veoh and Brightcove, News Corporation's investment in Roo, and YouTube's deal with Digital Music Group.

Add another interesting cross-platform distribution deal to the mix this week, as Viacom has announced a deal with Joost to distribute Viacom music videos and television shows through the online system. The deal will include Paramount movies and various MTV Networks properties, including MTV, Comedy Central, BET, VH1, Nickelodeon, CMT, MTV2, Spike TV, Logo, mtvU, and Gametrailers.com.

Ken Fisher provides plenty of information at ars technica about the partnership, with the prediction that Viacom is taking 2/3 stake in the venture.

Of course, everyone is making the YouTube connection, and the story in The Wall Street Journal emphasizes Joost's agreement to work on copyright protection as one of the "stumbling blocks" of the YouTube negotiations with Viacom, which I wrote about earlier this month.

He writes, "Truth be told, Joost is nothing like YouTube. Joost is all about TV-length programming, although it can show shorter clips and even feature-lenght films. Most importantly, Joost is focused on commercial video content, not the user creations that have made YouTube so popular. To wit, you cannot upload content to Joost."

A Bloomberg story compares the Joost system to a broadcast model rather than the user-driven YouTube, so the point is that it is somewhat of a misconception to see the Joost deal as an alternative to a YoUTube deal but rather something different altogether which is more clearly just cross-platform distribution of existing content in full and not making material available for users to play with.

If looking at this deal solely as further distribution, it can only be seen as a positive. The more ways that Viacom can make its content available in as many was as possible gives more chances for viewers to connect with Viacom material, which can only be a positive. Ubiquity of availability seems to be the new key for reaching the consumer.

Now, questions remain murky as to how Viacom is going to allow users a chance to exercise their "fair use" and be able to quote from, combine, and parody from this same media content, more along the lines of what drives YouTube, but that should be clearly separated from the Joost deal and the further expansion of shows in their entirety in new platforms.

No one from Viacom or MTV Networks was consulted in the writing of this post.