I am mildly fascinated by the recent revenue sharing (for lack of a better term) announcement from YouTube. Now that the site is strong and part of the Google family, content owners will get a bit of the advertising dollars that will inevitably flow into the site’s coffers. It will also require a lot more of the diligence that copyright owners desire — demand — from the Internet.
This might appease some of the major players who are reluctant to “share” their videos with the YouTube nation. Once their eyes grow glassy with visions of millions of passive dollars flowing into their company coffers, surely they’ll open the vaults o’content, eager to offer more, more, more to make more, more, more.
Oh right. Entertainment industry. They may not have the vision necessary to wait for passive dollars. In order to achieve their goals, they’re going to have to release a lot of content to the online service, some with inline advertising, some depending on old-fashioned ads, without a guaranteed return. Unless Google makes some dumb deals that promise a certain level of advertising dollars; I say dumb, because while they did it with MySpace, I don’t think setting guarantees is a good precedent. It is inevitable that the system will not meet someone’s expectations.
Plus, cutting deals with major studios misses the point of what makes YouTube great. It isn’t the few minutes of Taxi that matter — it’s the treasure trove of long-lost content (copyright holder sometimes unclear), rare gems (not worth the cost of remastering), and original cool stuff (Lonelygirl15, among many, many others). YouTube has already spawned a new sort of celebrity, one that is oddly and appealingly fleeting.
If the revenue model works, it will also spawn a new type of programming. Think of what will happen if a little money makes its way into the production budget. Okay, better not to think of that. Better cheesy lighting, anyone?
I like that YouTube is paying content owners. It’s pretty clear that most of the people playing in the site’s sandbox aren’t doing it to get rich — they’re doing it because they derive satisfaction from what’s happening…if they happen to become rich and famous from their efforts? Well, it’s not like they’re gonna say no.