NBC Ditches YouTube? Supporting Hulu? Going to Sue?

Lots of excitement tonight about whether NBC has forced YouTube to take down its videos  To recap: This afternoon, Valleywag spotted the following note in the NBC Channel on YouTube:

This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by NBC Universal

In many cases, the videos are still available–even with the sentence displayed–so it’s not clear what’s going on.  Perhaps NBC has pulled a Viacom and demanded that YouTube pull down all its videos. Perhaps it’s just taking YouTube a while to comply with the request (It’s Sunday afternoon, after all).

If this is what’s happening, it might be that Viacom will finally have some company in the anti-YouTube camp.  Maybe NBC is even be planning to sue YouTube.  If so, this wouldn’t threaten YouTube’s domination of the online video world, but it would at least make Viacom less of an outcast. 

It might also be that NBC is finally getting ready to put its money where its mouth is with respect to Hulu, its would-be YouTube killer.  The only chance Hulu has to succeed is if its big media partners put all their weight behind it (meaning that they stop distributing video everywhere else).  If the only place people can get NBC and News Corp content is Hulu, Hulu might be able to amass a respectable user base.

Even if NBC is pulling the plug on YouTube to support Hulu, however, this won’t ensure Hulu’s success.  NBC seems committed to distributing some of its content through its own site, so even for NBC content, Hulu users will have options.  And Hulu has only managed to sign a couple of big media companies as partners: Disney, Viacom, and CBS remain on the sidelines, and CBS openly disagrees with Hulu’s strategy.  And then, of course, Hulu has other problems: no users, no launch date, lousy economics (in our estimation–see below).

But if NBC ever expects the market to take its jawboning about the bright future of Hulu seriously, the least it could do would be to boycott YouTube.  So perhaps that’s what’s happening.

See Also:
Why Hulu is Screwed, 1
Why Hulu is Screwed, 2: Bad Economics
analysing NBC’s defence of Hulu
CBS’s Quincy Smith: Hulu Strategy a Waste of Time/Money

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