In reading Daisy Whitney's story from TelevisionWeek on Tuesday about YouTube's plan for copyright control, I was struck by what I considered a substantial quote from Eric Scmidt at Google.
He said of the News Corp./NBC Universal online video network being planned for launch later this year that, "It's been labeled as a competitor, but it's a different animal. It's primarily targeted at long-form content. YouTube is not television. It's a different phenomenon."
I couldn't agree more. If the media industry looks at YouTube simply as another platform for distribution, they are missing what makes YouTube unique. As a place to watch video on-demand that a user can't get anywhere else, YouTube is only great in its ubiquity, that it's a one-stop shop. Otherwise, though, the video quality isn't great, the copyright issues are taxing, and no long content can be posted in its entirety.
As a site for cross-platform distribution, YouTube is much less interesting. What powers the site, however, in addition to the user-generated content, is its quotability and grabability.
When this deal for a Fox/NBC collaborative effort for an online video service site was announced last month, I wrote:
The problem I have is when this is framed as a YouTube killer. I am assuming from the various ways it has been written in the press that the intention from the networks is to create a Web site which directly competes with and undercuts the popular video sharing site owned by Google.
The problem is that, just as with the Viacom/Joost deal, this new online site will not be a competitor to YouTube in that it will not serve the same purposes of YouTube, at least in how it seems initially planned.
I've written time and time again that the power of YouTube is in the quotability it allows in picking moments from shows to post and share with others as a form of viral marketing, and in the grabability YouTube offers to other sites, where the video can be easily embedded.
Also refer to the Vidmeter study I wrote about here last week, which concluded that "unauthorized copyright videos make up a relatively small portion of YouTube's most popular videos and an even smaller portion of views." I wrote, "In other words, copyrighted material does not explain the popularity of the video sharing site, and coloring arguments about the YouTube community as a site of rampant "piracy" is an argument that does not reflect the myriad ways in which the site is used by the YouTube that really matters, the community that empowers the site through its sharing activities."