Om Malik Says “Yahoo! Should Buy Hulu”. It Won’t Happen and Here’s Why.

Om Malik surprised me today by suggesting Yahoo! should buy Hulu, the joint venture video portal of NBC Universal and News Corp.  The company was founded in 2007 to create a destination site to present content from TV networks and was a response to the meteoric rise of YouTube.

Malik comes to that conclusion while thinking about the need for a solid number 2 exec at Yahoo! now that they’ve named Carol Bartz as their new CEO. He thinks Jason Kilar, Hulu’s young CEO, is a natural for that role and he suggests Yahoo! buys them.

He says: “With his service growing by leaps and bounds, and advertisers lining up to get on board, Kilar’s only problem is that he doesn’t have enough traffic –- like, say, YouTube. That will change over a period of time; and as we all know, time is an elastic concept. Perhaps this is where Yahoo can help. Or rather, where the two can help each other. Clearly search and search advertising isn’t quite working out for Yahoo; what Yahoo knows best is media and content. Which is why buying Hulu would be a strategically relevant acquisition for the company — it would play to Yahoo’s media strengths.”

He adds to explain why NBC and News Corp. would sell: “You’re probably thinking, why would Fox and GE sell their pet project to Yahoo? Well, why not? After all, they took a $100 million investment from Providence Equity Partners, which means they have an interest in making some sort of a return on this company.”

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Hulu is one of the core elements of NBCu and News Corp online video strategy.  They were ridiculed when it was first announced (Techcrunch called it Clown Co., they’ve changed their minds since then) but they proved everybody wrong.  Most people thought a joint venture between traditional media companies would fail, that the user experience would be bad, that no one would use it. According to this article, in September 2008, they streamed 142 million videos, a 42% month over month increase. It’s growing fast and on the verge of becoming a major player online. Selling Hulu to Yahoo! would be like AT&T selling YellowPages.com to Google. Won’t happen, nope. Don’t even think about it. As for return on investment, expect an IPO in a couple of years, not a sale.

And Hulu!  We want access in Canada!

Om Malik Says "Yahoo! Should Buy Hulu". It Won't Happen and Here's Why.

Om Malik surprised me today by suggesting [praized subtype=”small” pid=”4ba3024afad224aed466c0367141ce59″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] should buy [praized subtype=”small” pid=”b4e172b2799ee9f440309b3b6454633c” type=”badge” dynamic=”true”], the joint venture video portal of NBC Universal and News Corp.  The company was founded in 2007 to create a destination site to present content from TV networks and was a response to the meteoric rise of YouTube.

Malik comes to that conclusion while thinking about the need for a solid number 2 exec at Yahoo! now that they’ve named Carol Bartz as their new CEO. He thinks Jason Kilar, Hulu’s young CEO, is a natural for that role and he suggests Yahoo! buys them.

He says: “With his service growing by leaps and bounds, and advertisers lining up to get on board, Kilar’s only problem is that he doesn’t have enough traffic –- like, say, YouTube. That will change over a period of time; and as we all know, time is an elastic concept. Perhaps this is where Yahoo can help. Or rather, where the two can help each other. Clearly search and search advertising isn’t quite working out for Yahoo; what Yahoo knows best is media and content. Which is why buying Hulu would be a strategically relevant acquisition for the company — it would play to Yahoo’s media strengths.”

He adds to explain why NBC and News Corp. would sell: “You’re probably thinking, why would Fox and GE sell their pet project to Yahoo? Well, why not? After all, they took a $100 million investment from Providence Equity Partners, which means they have an interest in making some sort of a return on this company.”

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Hulu is one of the core elements of NBCu and News Corp online video strategy.  They were ridiculed when it was first announced (Techcrunch called it Clown Co., they’ve changed their minds since then) but they proved everybody wrong.  Most people thought a joint venture between traditional media companies would fail, that the user experience would be bad, that no one would use it. According to this article, in September 2008, they streamed 142 million videos, a 42% month over month increase. It’s growing fast and on the verge of becoming a major player online. Selling Hulu to Yahoo! would be like AT&T selling YellowPages.com to Google. Won’t happen, nope. Don’t even think about it. As for return on investment, expect an IPO in a couple of years, not a sale.

And Hulu!  We want access in Canada!

Om Malik Says "Yahoo! Should Buy Hulu". It Won't Happen and Here's Why.

Om Malik surprised me today by suggesting [praized subtype=”small” pid=”4ba3024afad224aed466c0367141ce59″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] should buy [praized subtype=”small” pid=”b4e172b2799ee9f440309b3b6454633c” type=”badge” dynamic=”true”], the joint venture video portal of NBC Universal and News Corp.  The company was founded in 2007 to create a destination site to present content from TV networks and was a response to the meteoric rise of YouTube.

Malik comes to that conclusion while thinking about the need for a solid number 2 exec at Yahoo! now that they’ve named Carol Bartz as their new CEO. He thinks Jason Kilar, Hulu’s young CEO, is a natural for that role and he suggests Yahoo! buys them.

He says: “With his service growing by leaps and bounds, and advertisers lining up to get on board, Kilar’s only problem is that he doesn’t have enough traffic –- like, say, YouTube. That will change over a period of time; and as we all know, time is an elastic concept. Perhaps this is where Yahoo can help. Or rather, where the two can help each other. Clearly search and search advertising isn’t quite working out for Yahoo; what Yahoo knows best is media and content. Which is why buying Hulu would be a strategically relevant acquisition for the company — it would play to Yahoo’s media strengths.”

He adds to explain why NBC and News Corp. would sell: “You’re probably thinking, why would Fox and GE sell their pet project to Yahoo? Well, why not? After all, they took a $100 million investment from Providence Equity Partners, which means they have an interest in making some sort of a return on this company.”

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Hulu is one of the core elements of NBCu and News Corp online video strategy.  They were ridiculed when it was first announced (Techcrunch called it Clown Co., they’ve changed their minds since then) but they proved everybody wrong.  Most people thought a joint venture between traditional media companies would fail, that the user experience would be bad, that no one would use it. According to this article, in September 2008, they streamed 142 million videos, a 42% month over month increase. It’s growing fast and on the verge of becoming a major player online. Selling Hulu to Yahoo! would be like AT&T selling YellowPages.com to Google. Won’t happen, nope. Don’t even think about it. As for return on investment, expect an IPO in a couple of years, not a sale.

And Hulu!  We want access in Canada!

On Atomizing Your Business Model: The TV Industry

Additional food for thought for yesterday’s blog post on atomizing your business model: this Fortune magazine interview with Irwin Gotlieb, CEO of GroupM (a media-buying company owned by WPP Group) details a portion of their strategy regarding future business models for television.

GroupM Logos

Last spring, for example, he crafted a $1 million pact with NBC Universal that changed the age-old model of how TV ads are bought: The bigger the hit, the more you pay. With DVRs allowing people to skip commercials, Gotlieb decided that a show’s popularity no longer mattered. He told NBC executives that he would pay based on who was watching the commercials. It was a controversial move, but again competitors adopted the new system. Rino Scanzoni, GroupM’s chief investment officer, who negotiated the deal, credits his boss. “He was saying, ‘Digital video recorders are being incorporated in set-top boxes. Television is going digital by 2009. What impact will that have on our business, now and in five years?’ ” says Scanzoni. “This is something we needed to do to get ahead and drive the change.”

As the line between the web and TV blurs, viewers will have even more control over what they watch. Inevitably that’ll mean watching fewer commercials, and Gotlieb knows it. So while spending money on increasingly dear (and often unwatched) spots in “Lost” and “The Office,” he also wants to own the shows themselves to figure out new ways to infuse them with ads. That’s why he started GroupM Entertainment, a throwback to the 1950s, when shows like The “Colgate Comedy Hour” dominated primetime, to create everything from rock concerts to TV series. In March, GroupM Entertainment produced “October Road,” a series that aired after “Grey’s Anatomy” and has been picked up for another year. (In exchange, ABC gave GroupM discounted ad slots to pass along to clients.) It also produced “Dr Pepper Band in a Bubble,” an MTV reality show. The goal isn’t to turn TV shows into run-on commercials. But having a hand in content creation gives GroupM a better idea of what types of shows will be hits – not to mention first dibs on prime ad buys. “The Digital Age requires advertisers not to interrupt content but to create it,” says Peter Tortorici, a former president of CBS Entertainment. “Programming only works if people really enjoy it and keep coming back.”

What it means: I note a few insights in those two paragraphs. First, the fact that GroupM has been very proactive in trying to reinvent the TV business model even though they’re not a TV network. Maybe the distance helps to craft more innovative ideas. The second insight is the introduction of a performance-based model for TV in a DVR world. I believe we will see those models launched in every traditional media vehicles. The third insight is the blurring of the line between editorial and advertising content. The smaller the content atom becomes, the closer the advertising atom gets to its “cousin”. As a consequence, I think we will see more and more conflicts in the future between editorial and advertising. Will society be mature enough to discriminate between these two?

Hearst-Argyle Signs Distribution and Monetizing Agreement with YouTube

(via Mediapost & Hearst-Argyle press release)

Hearst-Argyle (a US television station owner) has cut a deal to distribute video clips on YouTube, the companies announced today. With the arrangement, news, weather, and clips from other local programs in five markets – – Boston, Manchester in New Hampshire, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore – – will be available on the video-sharing site, as well as clips of high school sports, among other material.

While this deal appears to mark the first time YouTube has made a deal for local video, the company has allied with NBC and CBS in the past. As recently as March, CBS tapped YouTube to create an NCAA channel for streams of the basketball games.

The agreement marks the first revenue sharing agreement between Google, YouTube and an independent television group.

What it means: Brilliant! To expand their online reach, Hearst-Argyle has chosen to sign a distribution agreement with YouTube, the leading video site. In addition, to motivate their distribution partner, they are also doing revenue sharing. Given that online is much more fragmented than offline, traditional media has no choice but to embrace the wholesale model. This allows the media company to sell an online product with a reach that approaches the offline one (insuring a smoother revenue transition between offline and online). I suspect that we’ll eventually see that strategy happen in the directory space as well. Given that many directory players are showing their print display ads in their destination site, it’s not too much of a stretch to distribute that content elsewhere, in decentralized online destinations. Paid distribution agreements will be part of the deal.

NBC and News Corp. to Partner with “Everyone But Google” to Launch YouTube Killer

(via TechCrunch)

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!

MySpace Wants to Partner with Other Media Firms to Launch ‘YouTube Killer’

From Variety.com via NewTeeVee.com

News Corp. is forging ahead on talks with a number of congloms to create a video platform that could compete with YouTube. “We’re in very active negotiations with all of the media companies to create the most robust video offering from professional content on the Web,” Fox Interactive Media topper Peter Levinsohn told investors at the Bear Stearns confab in Palm Beach, Fla. “Those conversations are ongoing, but they’re going very well,” he added. (…)

And then, perhaps hinting at where such a convocation would happen, he added, “No doubt MySpace will be a huge beneficiary of that.” News Corp. would reportedly like to see much of the content from other congloms live on its social-networking subsid. But comments glossed over a big sticking point: Other congloms have been resistant to making video available to MySpace, worrying that it would drive traffic and revenue to a competitor. Congloms are by no means unanimous on the subject; NBC has reportedly been more willing, while CBS has been more reluctant.(…)

Viacom recently decided to go its own way on video-sharing after talks with Google broke down, signing a content deal with a YouTube competitor, the Europe-based startup Joost. MySpace has been a major platform for News Corp.’s video, offering a hefty number of clips and sneak peeks of Fox content. Levinsohn did say that a major obstacle to pacting with other congloms is ensuring that those in charge of digital operations have the ear of the conglom chiefs. Digital divisions have gained clout in recent months but still may not have as much sway in the exec suite as they may need.

What it means: reading between the lines, this article highlights a couple of interesting points. First, the struggle of traditional media firms to redefine their competitive space with the arrival of Google: “Other congloms have been resistant to making video available to MySpace, worrying that it would drive traffic and revenue to a competitor”. Who’s the biggest long term competitive threat to CBS? Is it News Corp or is it Google-Yahoo-Microsoft (GYM)? And why not partner with both groups? I personally think you want to build up your own assets while partnering within your industry but also with GYM. We’ve seen the same kind of ambiguity in the newspaper world with Tom Mohr’s “Winning Online” manifesto “proposing that the US newspaper industry should merge into a single industry-wide network, at least for its digital assets. The article also discuss the kind of internal politics interactive teams are facing within traditional media companies: “Levinsohn did say that a major obstacle to pacting with other congloms is ensuring that those in charge of digital operations have the ear of the conglom chiefs.”. This internal in-fighting is, in my opinion, completely useless. The competitors are outside the walls of the company, not inside. Trust your interactive teams, they understand this new world order.

Meta-Praized: Social Charity, Clustering, Is Google Too Big?, IM Predictions for 2007, Second Life, World of Warcraft, Revver, Guba

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User-Generated Content: Recap of 2006 and What to Expect in 2007

This article by Bambi Francisco in MarketWatch recaps 2006 and sets the stage for 2007 in terms of the impact of user-generated content:

“Given our obsession with users, and ourselves, I’ve highlighted what will be in demand or wanted in 2007 as the audience is increasingly relied upon as the voice, the experts, the supporting actors and/or virtual stars of tomorrow. These bottoms-up celebrities combined with traditional top-down stars will increasingly dominate the new media landscape of 2007.

Wanted: Your contribution

The concept of a wiki — a site that essentially enables egalitarian editing and collaboration of everyone from experts to novices — has been around for many years. The best-known example is Wikipedia, an encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Today, Wikipedia has 725 million page views per month, up more than 400% from last year, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. And, the beauty of Wikipedia is that it has about 6 employees. This year, the wiki model exploded to the point that now a book is being written in wiki style. Barry Libert is spearheading the first book project to be written in such a manner. (…)

Wanted: Your expertise

“Everyone is an expert [in something],” according to Richard Rosenblatt, who was the former chairman of MySpace and who sold the social network to News Corp last year for $580 million. Today, Rosenblatt is heading up Demand Media, which he calls a new media site. Demand Media is looking for professional, expert content on any topic since the core of its strategy is to start with trusted, professional content and then provide the tools to let people contribute related content or opinions. Some of Demand Media’s sites that use expert commentary include eHow, trails.com, gardenguides.com and golflink.com.

Yahoo Answers is probably the most popular of services that rely on volunteer experts to give people answers to their questions. (…) Yahoo Answers, which now has 60 million users and 160 million answers, marked its one-year anniversary in early December. Those answers helped drive Yahoo Answers traffic from practically zero in November 2005 to 14.5 million this November, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. In a survey conducted by Yahoo Answers and Harris Interactive, a third of online adults have used a Q&A site. (…)

Wanted: Your opinions and comments

About 30% of online news site Topix.net comes from user-generated or reader comments. That’s expected to jump to about 50% next year, Topix.net’s CEO Rich Skrenta tells me. Take a look across the blogosphere and you’ll note that comments make up a large part of the content.

Wanted: Your history

User-generated content can come in the form of a users’ history. As long as people can know your history, it can help form recommendations that drive sales of products, movie rentals, or news articles. In the past, roughly 5% of Amazon‘s book sales came from recommendations, as estimated by analysts. According to Netflix members select approximately 60 percent of their movies based on movie recommendations tailored to their individual tastes.

Wanted: Your reviews, ratings

It all started with ePinions back in the late ’90s. It was a site that thrived on users giving their opinions about sundry topics. Now, reviews and ratings are not only everywhere, they’re essential in influencing what we buy, where we eat, and what we read. They’ve become a great filtering process. They’re the reason sellers are trusted on eBay. They’re the reason local restaurants which are reviewed by users on Yelp.com get new clients. They’re the reason we read certain articles from across the Web, thanks to Digg.com, which relies on users to vote for articles they like by submitting it.

Wanted: Your profiles and journals

We live in an age where what we do, and who we are, is the news. That became clearer to me after Facebook decided to make any update on a users’ profile become a news feed. While the service wasn’t very popular when announced, I think the millennial generation will get used to it. Profiles of every day people make up the social network sites — the fastest-growing sites — on the Web. News Corp’s MySpace, with 115 million members creating the content with their own profiles, saw page views and unique visitors more than double in November. Microsoft’s Windows Live Spaces, which has 70 million members creating profiles, also saw its unique visitors and page views more than double last month.

Wanted: Your video creations

NBC is integrating user-submitted videos, such as favorite pets and wedding woes. They’ll be videos that are family-oriented, said Mark Moore, founder and CEO of One True Media, the technology company hosting the user-submitted videos. Mixing user-submitted video and traditional content will become a bigger deal in 2007.

What it means: this is a great summary of the major pillars of user-generated content. Still looking for a good New Year’s resolution? Make sure you open the conversation with your users. They want to tell you something!

Meta-Praized: ComScore & Privacy, TV Networks Discuss YouTube Rival, Four Google Improvements, LiveDeal.com, Yahoo & FaceBook, Skype Reorg, BidNearby

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