Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hulu, GooTube and iTMS

In the battle of free online video, GooTube has been the preferred destination by far for user-contributed videos — some legal, some not. However, some firms have also cooperated by posting their own videos, as with my favorite band, the Eagles, whose publisher has posted official copies (of ten) current and classic Eagles music videos.

The iTunes Store (née iTunes Music Store) tried to get into the business of selling TV episodes, but got into a pissing match with NBC over price discrimination. (A principle iTMS was willing to compromise recently to get hit HBO shows).

Viacom (owner of CBS) is trying to help NBC break the Google/Apple stranglehold, by posting “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” to Hulu. Of course, Viacom sued YouTube over the unauthorized reproduction of its shows, including these two topical shows from Comedy Central.

It makes sense that Viacom and others will band together to try to increase their power over the distribution channel and reduce Apple’s and Google’s. As long as they don’t offer more favorable terms to related entities — or conspire to put Hulu competitors out of business — this is a pro-competitive effort that sustains multiple distribution channels and more choice.

I think the HBO and Comedy Central have something else in mind. Half(?) of the US doesn’t take premium cable channels, or at least these channels. So this is a way to have influence and monetize revenues out of this remainder. Assuming, of course, that the reason we don’t subscribe to pay cable is because there’s nothing there worth watching.

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