March 6, 2007
BBC Deal with YouTube Raises Questions About Quoting, "Damaging the Brand"

YouTube has created another "official" deal this week, now with BBC. According to news that was announced last Friday, the BBC will provide two official BBC channels on YouTube focusing on properties such as the popular Doctor Who, as well as a third channel focusing on content from BBC News.

Mathew Ingram with WebProNews points out how different the BBC reaction is to Viacom's.

"The venerable BBC--an 'old' media giant that has been teaching much younger media outlets a thing or two about new media for some time now--has taken a different tack when it comes to YouTube." Ingram believes this is "a much smarter strategy" than pulling clips.

However, keep in mind that there will be blocks for people in Britain for viewing the news content on YouTube because they will include ads. More controversially, though, Rafat Ali at paidContent points out that BBC Worldwide content will include pre-roll ads that can be seen in the UK.

Ben Metcalfe thinks BBC is damaging itself with the deal, primarily because he is looking at YouTube solely as a form of cross-platform distribution.

My take is that YouTube's uniqueness is the ability for fans to quote. A channel of official BBC content doesn't do much to address that issue and becomes just another platform for distribution rather than a place for viewers to cut out meaningful chunks and share with others or even to use video for mash-ups, etc.

However, Tim Weber with BBC points out that the plan is to allow viewer-uploaded BBC content as well. "Mr. Highfield said the BBC would not be hunting down all BBC-copyrighted clips already uploaded by YouTube members--although it would reserve the right for example to swap poor quality clips with the real thing, or to have content removed that infringed other people's copyright, like sport, or that had been edited or altered in a way that would damage the BBC's brand."

While the last part of that line troubles me, about pulling down content that "damages the brand," this could be a fairly forward-thinking policy, should it be maintained. Replacing quotes with better quality video is not a big deal. On the other hand, pulling clips down that have quotes BBC doesn't approve of may help them retain their control, but it doesn't show a lot of confidence on BBC's part.