The rumors of a joint venture to counter the perceived Google-YouTube threat, dubbed “Clown Co.” by Google executives, are now confirmed, although the name of the new company is not yet available. In a press release, Peter Chernin (COO News Corp.) and Jeff Zucker (CEO NBC Universal) are announcing “launch the largest Internet video distribution network ever assembled with the most sought-after content from television and film.” Content from at least a dozen TV networks and two major film studios is promised. Initial distribution partners include AOL, MSN, MySpace and Yahoo.
Chernin says they will have access to “the entire U.S. audience” at launch. The service is promised for this summer, with “thousands of hours” of full length televisions shows and movies, as well as shorter clips. Users will have unlimited and free access to content on the site. At launch, full episodes and clips from current hit shows, including Heroes, 24, House, My Name Is Earl, Saturday Night Live, Friday Night Lights, The Riches, 30 Rock, The Simpsons, The Tonight Show, Prison Break, Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader and Top Chef, plus hits from the studios’ vast television libraries, will be available free, on an ad-supported basis, within a rich consumer experience featuring personalized video playlists, mashups, online communities and video search. Plus, the extensive programming lineup will include fan favorite films like Borat, Little Miss Sunshine, Devil Wears Prada, The Bourne Identity and Bourne Supremacy with bonus materials and movie trailers. Post-launch, plans will be considered for acquiring additional content as well as producing and licensing original programming for the new site’s audience.
What it means: Wow! Google seems to be heading to the same penalty box Microsoft sat in for most of the later portion of 1990’s. Remember when Netscape created the “Everyone But Microsoft” league? It sure sounds like TV & movie creators are heading in the same direction by saying “Everyone But Google”. If the thing flies, expect other TV networks and movie companies to join the group. You can also expect a renewed onslaught of copyright lawsuits against YouTube. As TechCrunch asks, I wonder if there will be a delay between the broadcast and the Web posting of a TV show. I also hope they don’t block viewers from other countries via IP detection!