Network Owners Looking for Online TV Show Destination

Dec 11, 2006  •  Post A Comment

The corporate owners of Fox, CBS and NBC are discussing plans to build an online video destination for their TV shows that could compete with Google-owned YouTube, the Wall Street Journal reported late last week.

News Corp., Viacom and NBC Universal have been developing an idea for a video site that could become the de facto destination online for their content and featuring a video player that would play all content from across the Web, the story said. However, the publication said a deal is a long way off.

According to the Journal, Disney, which is banking on its own Web site, is not involved. Visitors to ABC.com watched episodes of shows 24.5 million times from September through mid-November, the network said.

The networks are considering such a venture because of the success of YouTube, which has been driven in part by the large number of videos on its site that are unauthorized copies or clips of TV shows. The popularity of such clips has led the media companies to believe that consumers would be interested in a legitimate rival to YouTube, the story said.

Options exist other than a rival site that would allow YouTube to play nice with TV networks. The networks’ owners are in talks with Google and YouTube regarding the sites’ paying license fees that would allow them to continue featuring network content without the specter of lawsuits, according to several published reports. In addition, NBC and CBS struck deals earlier this year to feature some TV show content on YouTube.

However, the networks may pull back because major media conglomerates have a spotty record when banding together to create legitimate sources for their content online. MovieLink, the online movie download service owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios and Warner Bros. Studios, has not been a big hit.

A possible online TV site owned by the networks also goes against the current user behavior trends of consuming video across many sites, said Will Richmond, president of broadband video market research firm Broadband Directions. “The market for video is moving in completely the opposite direction—moving video into every nook and cranny,” Mr. Richmond said.