YouTube’s Days Are Numbered

Oct 29th, 2007 | By | Category: Citizen Media, Commentary, Internet TV, Streaming Video, Video, Video Podcasts

Leave Britney Along Guy

A funny thing happened today. Pretty much everyone that’s been roasting NBC for yanking their content off of YouTube and iTunes is eating their words, now that they’ve seen Hulu, NBC’s new video site:

  • “I was busy sharpening up the knives at BoomTown HQ to prepare for the debut of Hulu this week,” admits Kara Swisher at All Things Digital. Now that she’s actually seen the site, she’s impressed, saying that Hulu “in concept and tone and aims….is off to a good start.”
  • “I mocked the service, and its backers, all through the summer,” admits Om Malik. After actually seeing the site, though, Malik says “I am ready to eat crow. And not just any crow, but rotten, six-month-old crow: I have never been more wrong.”
  • “In the months following the companies’ initial press release, we gave the joint venture a lot of grief,” notes TechCrunch. After seeing the site, they are “very impressed by the preview of Hulu’s interface and the bulk of its features.”
  • “Hulu….has always been a joke,” according to Salon. After actually taking a look at the site, though, Salon has changed their tune. “Hulu is here, on time! And it’s excellent.”

A lot of people following new media appear to have let their prejudices against NBC, Viacom and other big media firms get the best of them when evaluating traditional media’s response to YouTube.

For over a year, we’ve seen signs that YouTube as you know it is dead. From the news that YouTube was cutting deals with the major RIAA record labels, to the fact that YouTube has been rapidly removing tens of thousands of videos, to Viacom’s billion-dollar lawsuit, it’s becoming clear that YouTube is screwed.


Traditional media can give people what they want – a comprehensive collection of high-quality video, free of spam and crappy user-generated content. While we’re longtime advocates of user-generated media, a lot of it’s crap – and people don’t want to wade through crap when they’re looking for their Lost fix.

We don’t want to wade through crap when we’re looking for our Lost fix.

YouTube’s days are numbered:

  • Traditional media has figured out that it’s time to put video on the Internet and tack some ads onto it. They’re doing just that, and doing it well with sites like Hulu and The Daily Show.
  • Many of the best video podcasters and vloggers are staying away from YouTube, because they want to keep control of their content. That means even more competition for YouTube.
  • While YouTube is going to have to compete against more and more great video sites, it’s going to have to do it with a lot less content.
  • Viral videos like the Leave Britney Alone guy are going to get some serious competition from the freakshows of daily commercial television.

The biggest reason YouTube’s days are numbered, though, is that the site has a lot of weaknesses, and mainstream media has the time, money and lawyers to exploit them.

9 Responses to “YouTube’s Days Are Numbered”

  1. Mark says:

    Be aware, Hulu takes your email address and displays a message saying “we will get back to you when we are ready for you”. Net, they are collecting email addresses. Pretty tacky for a company the size of NBC/U.

    Just be aware that all you get for your email address in their database is a fairly rude note.

    I hope someday to be able to see if the propaganda above is true for myself.


  2. Mike says:

    Do you work for NBC?

    Your doubt in the potential market for independent TV and Movie content is astounding. No one would argue YouTube isn’t going to change the market forces overnight but to stay that the platform for user generated content via youtube is dead is short sighted and ignorant. I am glad you would rather listen to someone like Jeff Zucker from NBC who recently complained about only making 15 million dollars. His company NBC, can likely make more money in the one night through advertising revenue.

    The biggest thing you are ignoring is time. There will great shows like Lost but they will be written by and produced by upstarts who want to make it (who don’t want to sign their life away to the likes of NBC). They will work with Google to publish their work on YouTube and Google (using its advertising strength) will pay those writers and producers. Yes, its a prediction and I can’t prove it but I am certainly not calling YouTube dead.


  3. Geoff says:

    Yes, but the beauty of getting my Lost fix at YouTube is that I can pretty much get anything I want there. I know YouTube has its weaknesses, but forcing people to go to 5 different sites to get 5 different videos they used to get in one site is just going upset people and, I believe, continue to turn off the already-shrinking “Big 3” television viewing audience…regardless of how sharp Hulu looks.

    Just my two cents.

  4. Fred says:

    The reason the pundits are eating crow is because Hulu doesn’t suck as bad as it originally appeared that it would suck. Sure, you’ll be able to get your Lost fix, but only if the episode you missed was within the last five. And you don’t mind the unskippable pre-roll ad. And you don’t want to download it to your desktop or transfer it to a portable player. Hulu appears to not completely suck, but it could be so much better. It will never be as good as it could be, because (a) it’s run by NBC, who seem to think that market forces should drive prices up and (b) it’s run by NBC, who seem deathly afraid of the internet and freeing their iron-grip control on content. They see the advantage of freeing consumers from some of the control of Comcast, but don’t think for a second that they will free consumers from the control of NBC.

  5. info says:

    Mike –

    You’re the first to suggest that Podcasting News was part of NBC!

    We don’t doubt the potential of indie content – not sure where you got that. It’s just becoming less and less likely that you’re going to find great mainstream or indie content on YouTube – which will tend to marginalize them.

  6. Podcastmama says:

    Hee hee! Podcasting News as mainstream media. That is very funny. Mike should come visit our office sometime and see what the creation of independent content actually looks like.

    Hulu has got to be one of the goofier names for a video site, although it is just one among many sites with names that sound like something out of a preschooler’s tv viewing (hulu, bebo, twitter, ookles… weren’t they Teletubbies or something?).

    Fred has a point when he says that it’s not so much that Hulu is awesome, it’s just surprising that it doesn’t totally stink. Yes, YouTube is a place where anyone can upload just about anything, but finding interesting content among the kitty cat home movies and backyard light saber battles can be like finding a needle in a haystack.

  7. You must be joking?
    Until Hulu allows people outside of the USA to view it’s content, it is doomed a failure, long live YouTube!

  8. Eric says:

    Info and Podcast Mama, are you guys stoned? YouTube is full of great content, and it’s not hard to find. In fact, our show has seen the benefits of posting on YouTube, as they have been actively promoting content on their site to mainstream media, which makes it even easier to find our content, and other good content.

    Because of our relationship with YouTube, we’ve been in the NY Times, Good Morning America, The Rachael Ray Show, Self Magazine’s online portable, and our hostess will be part of a pictorial piece coming next spring from Glamour Magazine.

    Yes, the guys like Chris Crocker get an inordinate amount attention. Who doesn’t slow down to watch a train wreck when the see one? But shows like LonelyGirl15 also make an impact. And so do shows like ours, if the near constant feedback we get is any indication.


  9. info says:


    Do you think YouTube is your future, or do you think it’s a tool to be used to establish your own independent destination site?

    What do you think is more important in the long run, showing up in YouTube, or your site being easy to find on search engines?

    YouTube’s goal is to make money off of you – as you get more established, their goals are likely to run counter to yours.

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