It needs to be said

Texasism: “Dumber than a bucket of hair!”

NBC Universal continues to make absolutely boneheaded moves in its effort to insist that scarcity will work online. Hulu.com apparently launches in private beta next week (“private beta,” for the uneducated, is short for “help us fix mistakes before we let everybody see how incredibly stupid we are” and not to be confused with the public beta launch strategy made popular by Google, who doesn’t really give a crap about being perfect before letting people play with the goodies), and to properly tee it up as a web “destination,” NBC pulled its YouTube channel. After all, if you want the teeming masses to march willy-nilly into your trap, you can’t support alternatives, or so the thinking goes.

Seth Freilich at Pajiba (one of my favorite sites) nails it:

While they may not have seen any direct revenue from the YouTube channel, what about the tons of free advertising they got? I mean, I’ve used NBC clips in various round-ups on countless occasions, essentially giving “The Office” or “Scrubs” or “30 Rock” free prime advertising real estate. I posit that something like the “Dick in a Box” or “Chronic(what?)cles of Narnia” phenomena wouldn’t have happened on some proprietary NBC site, and much like its decision to separate from iTunes, I think NBC is being incredibly short-sighted.

Not satisfied with the marketing given to them by people like Seth (and they are legion), NBCU wants more “found money” for its “content.”

The gamble NBC is making is significant. Will people, who are quite happy with their YouTube, thank you very much, go elsewhere to view clips — with ads — that they can record and share with their friends for free?

CBS continues to impress, meanwhile, by striking deal after deal with any site or system that wants to serve their content to an audience that CBS cannot get on its own. This is the right strategy in a distributed media world, and one that both NBCU and Viacom would do well to emulate.

Comments

  1. Something that NBCU and others are overlooking: as with broadcast or cable, viewers have one hard-and-fast limit: time. If they’re already spending significant amounts of time on YouTube, they’re unlikely to add another video site. Most folks are already stretching the limits of how much online media they can consume in a given day — why else are there so many “how to” articles about beating the filtering programs while at work?

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