Ed Driscoll

Viacom Versus YouTube

In Opinion Journal, Paul Kedrosky has some thoughts on “Dr. Evil (a k a Sumner Redstone) and his one billion dollar lawsuit” against YouTube (or more specfically, its parent company, Google):

Consumers have spoken, and they don’t like the way that electronic media–whether music, television or movies–is being packaged and sold to them. A decade ago they rebelled against being forced to buy entire CDs when they only wanted the few good tracks, and thus spawned Napster. Today, using YouTube, they are rebelling against being forced to watch entire programs when they only really want the 20-second part of American Idol last night where the contestant forgot the song lyrics and broke down in tears. Or a hockey fight. Or whatever.

Seeing that digital media can be sold to them in the equivalent of six-packs, sips and pint bottles, consumers no longer want to buy it by the truckload. And they resent being told by companies like Viacom that they can’t have it, or that if they want it they have to go a different site for every clip owner. Consumers don’t mind specialty stores, but they also want online Wal-Marts of media, mega-stores where they can buy whatever they want, without having to go to Viacom for this, ESPN for that, CNN for the next thing, and so on.

That is why, to be blunt, YouTube doesn’t matter. Because if Viacom wins this suit and busts YouTube–and there is a very good chance it will win; it is, after all, uncontested that this is Viacom’s media property we are talking about–that won’t change what consumers want one whit. They are demanding unbundled media, sold everywhere and in myriad assortments. Period. And if Viacom won’t provide it then some new media entrepreneurs will.

Yet another case of the ongoing civil war between North and South–California that is: Hollywood versus Silicon Valley.