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February 21, 2007

Is YouTube the New Napster?

By Li Evans

Flyers After a report I read about the NHL wanting to ban their videos from being embeded, which was subsequently corrected by the NHL on Steve's site - they aren't banning embedding videos, I really got to this eerie feeling reminiscent of Napster, right on the edge of the Internet Bubble.  Granted, this a very broad comparison - there's a lot of technology difference between YouTube and Napster, but there is still some comparisons on the marketing front.

There are a lot of media companies questioning the internet marketing strategies when it comes to YouTube.  YouTube like Napster makes it incredibly easy to share things, big media companies like CBS, NBC and Viacom are all trying to figure out how to recoup some profits from the medium, just like the RIAA wanted to with file sharing on Napster.

This is where lessons in reputation management, word of mouth marketing and internet marketing all converge.  When I first stated the RIAA, come on, admit it - you're immediate thought was a negative one.  You probably had the vision of big bullies who go after grandmothers who let their grandkids use their computers, suing them for thousand of dollars more than their social security checks are worth in a year.  You also, more than likely, had a thought something like "those jerks ruined Napster." Note, that no artist wants to be really linked to the RIAA - there's not one picture of a recognizable "star", or record company on their website, that's how bad their reputation is.

Joost Now, lets look at how different media companies are handling the sharing of video on YouTube and Google.  CBS has embraced YouTube and has seen a rise in veiwership it can directly attribute to the medium.  Viacom and NBC on the other hand have ordered YouTube to remove their content, but, they aren't suing the people who upload their clips, instead they offer the videos on their own sites or looking to other services like Joost to help with their content distribution. 

So which company benefits the most?  In the long run, more than likely it will be CBS, embracing a medium with so many "eyeballs" means they have another medium to advertise on, they just need to figure out that model, is it a banner at the bottom of the screen or perhaps some kind of logo background behind Katie Couric? 

Riaa At least these media companies recognize that this is another viable venue and are treating their viewers with respect, by not going after them directly.  In the case of the RIAA, the result is the back lash of people actually buying CD's has seen an incredible decline.  Music listeners now look to iTunes to pick and choose a song here and there.  And by far, they have probably the most horrid reputation among internet users as a bunch of money hungry lawyers who will bleed the last dime out of you if you downloaded even one song.

These next few months will be very telling for this particular segment of internet marketing.  Those who embrace the medium, can likely benefit in ways the really didn't think they could.  For those who reject the medium - it's all in how you reject it.  There's that old saying "Don't bite the hand that feeds you," it's a lesson the RIAA has learned the hard way over the last couple of years.

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