NBC launches YouTube for Old Media Companies

Hilarious story from Technology Review….

NBC Universal launched a venture with its affiliated TV stations on Tuesday aimed at providing a legal and profitable way to distribute video online.

The venture, which was originally announced in April, will also include video clips from third parties such as CSTV Networks Inc., The History Channel and others.

Based loosely on the model of the hugely popular YouTube site, members of the venture will be able to add video to the system and also select which clips to play on their own site.

Advertisers will be able to buy ads by programming category but not by specific video clip, a measure that NBC hopes will eliminate any potential conflict with the ad sales efforts of its own affiliates and other parties that contribute content to the system.

And unlike YouTube, which has won a wide following with homemade video clips that any Internet user may post, NBC officials said their venture will have tight controls over which parties can become participants in the network. Clips will also be reviewed to ensure objectionable material isn’t shown, they said.

The venture between NBC and its affiliated stations, which will own about 30 percent of the company, seems aimed at easing frictions between networks and their affiliates over how to share the spoils from new ways of distributing video online.

Many network-affiliated TV stations were angered after being left out when networks started selling hit prime time shows — the lifeblood of TV ratings — through outlets such as Apple Computer Inc.’s popular iTunes service.

NBC officials say the network will focus on short clips that will retain high quality standards. At the same time, NBC clearly wants tap into the thriving video-sharing activities that have made sites like YouTube so popular. One early partner in the venture is Break.com, which features user-generated video clips.

”We know that video should be shared organically,” Brian Buchwald, the general manager of the venture, said at a news conference at NBC’s headquarters in New York. NBC Universal is 80 percent owned by General Electric Co. and 20 percent by Vivendi, the French media and telecommunications conglomerate.

The new venture will be called the National Broadband Company or ”nbbc” — a play on NBC’s original name, the National Broadcasting Co. But the name is not likely to be widely seen by consumers because the venture will simply supply the video and ads to participating sites, such as NBC’s New York affiliate WNBC.

NBC got a taste of the power of online video distribution several months ago when ”Lazy Sunday,” a satirical rap video that had aired on ”Saturday Night Live,” became a huge hit online, but initially through YouTube and other video-sharing sites.

”In the future, when you have a ‘Lazy Sunday’ kind of clip, it will end up here and we’ll make a lot of money from it,” said Randy Falco, chief operating officer of the NBC Universal Television Group.

I love that last quote. One born every minute.