Will YouTube’s Viacom Win Open the Floodgates for More Premium Content?


YouTube’s win in the $1 billion lawsuit that was brought against it by Viacom could not only help clear it of the copyright infringement stigma that it has held since the early days of its operations, but it could pave the way for the video share site to sign up more premium content partners.

YouTube already has the size, reach and audience that content partners — and advertisers — are looking for to capture viewer eyeballs; according to comScore, the site takes more than a 40 percent share of the total US online video market each month. But what YouTube doesn’t have a lot of is premium, long-form videos to serve those ads against.

The company has managed to strike some deals with traditional TV programmers and movie studios for full-length content, mostly for older TV content or independent films. On the TV side, that includes old CBS shows like Beverly Hills 90210, MacGyver and Star Trek: The Original Series. So far, though, it hasn’t been able to attract the kind of high-demand, first-run content that is found on competitor Hulu, which is currently ranked as the No. 2 video site in the US.

Now that it was found not to infringe on Viacom’s copyright, that could soon change, as content providers may warm up to the idea of streaming videos on YouTube. In fact, one media executive, who asked not to be named, said the decision could “open up the floodgates” for YouTube to bring on more premium TV and movie content.

If YouTube finds a way to get better content on board, it could leverage its already sizable audience to bring in more ad dollars, which could beget even better content, which could beget more viewers, which could beget more ad dollars, and so on. The big loser in that scenario, of course, would be Hulu, which has so far been the only site outside of the networks’ own websites to carry many prime time shows.

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