Given ITV’s (LSE: ITV) present perilous state, executive chairman Michael Grade is hardly in a strong position when it comes to lambasting other media operators who are robbing him of his audience. But that’s exactly what he did at the IBC broadcast conference in Amsterdam on Friday. He told moderator Raymond Snoddy (IBC Daily): “Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and YouTube are just parasites. The day they start spending £1 billion a year on content is the day I’ll start worrying.”
Indeed, Grade – a creature of the big old TV world – is still saying that the real “shop window” for top-quality content is traditional broadcast television, the declining medium that is responsible for ITV’s shrinking income. Pre-tax earnings fell 20 percent in August and the turnaround plan is struggling… already time to “start worrying”, perhaps?
It’s true to say there’s plenty of ITV’s material on YouTube right now. But, whilst the likes of BBC Worldwide, form partnerships with the video sharer, Grade appears to fight the site. What ITV Worldwide’s new digital director Jason Binks will make of the comments, we don’t know. Hired last week, Binks’ remit, ITV said, is to strike distribution agreements with the likes of Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and iTunes. By the same logic as that used to judge YouTube, can these platforms, too, be considered “parasites”… ?
Meanwhile, Grade said “mobile will have to wait (because) it’s clunky, it’s slow and 3G streaming seems usually not to work” – again different from the BBC, which now wants to resume mobile simulcasts full-time.