Media Companies Plot YouTube Killer

Mar 22, 2007  •  Post A Comment

News Corp. and NBC Universal are teaming up with some of the biggest Internet companies to create a video Web site meant to challenge YouTube’s supremacy as a destination for watching television and movie clips.

The media companies are allying with AOL, MSN and Yahoo! to create an as-yet unnamed Web site that will launch this summer, the participants said Thursday in a statement. It will feature full-length movies and TV shows including “Heroes,” “24,” “My Name is Earl” and “The Simpsons.”

TV content on the new site will be free, supported by advertisers including Cadbury Schweppes, Cisco, Esurance, Intel, and General Motors. The material will also be accessible via a player embedded on AOL, MSN, Yahoo and News Corp.’s MySpace, which together reach 96 percent of Web users each month, the companies said.

The partnership emerges from the ashes of a failed joint venture that had been proposed late last year between NBC Universal, Viacom, News Corp. and CBS. Since then, Viacom has waged a legal battle against YouTube, a unit of Internet giant Google, over copyright violations.

The success of the NBC-Fox venture will depend on whether Viacom and Disney come on board, whether YouTube is forced to knuckle under copyright pressure to Viacom’s lawsuit, and most important, whether the partners are able to create a video destination that is actually user-friendly.

YouTube is well-regarded for ease of use and its numbers bear that out. YouTube receives more Web traffic than the combined sites for 56 networks, including NBC, ABC, Fox and CBS, for the week ending March 17, 2007, according to audience measurement firm Hitwise.

Networks continue to refine the user experience on their sites. ABC revamped its video player this week with full-screen and mini-screen enhancements, while NBC announced a slew of new features for NBC.com today, including the introduction of social networking tools for the site.

The new site will feature full-length TV shows, movies and clips, drawing content from TV networks as well as the Universal and Twentieth Century Fox film studios.

“This is a game changer for Internet video,” Peter Chernin, News Corp.’s president and COO, said in the statement.

Editor: Baumann