Viacom chooses P2P over YouTube

Written by Brett Thomas

February 22, 2007 | 09:20

Tags: #joost #viacom #youtube

Companies: #google

The war over how downloaded content gets to your desktop and in front of your eyes is one of those things that's being fought in a million little battles. Choosing which strategy (or strategies) to support - between P2P, download sites like iTunes or sharing sites like YouTube - is a complex decision for the content makers. It appears that at least one of those little battles has been decided today - and the winner is P2P.

Viacom Entertainment is rumoured to have decided to use the beta P2P network Joost to provide its downloadable content. There is little being said about prices, DRM tactics, or other methods of control that will be used, as well as what content will be offere. In fact, to say that details of the service that will be offered are lacking would be an understatement.

So why is it newsworthy? Mostly because of who got slighted. Google's YouTube! had been in negotiations with Viacom already for quite some time, and apparently those talks were quietly discontinued about a month ago. These types of deals were a big part of Google's plans for YouTube as a revenue provider, and Viacom turning its back on the service is not a trifling matter.

Viacom's move says a lot about what content makers really trust sharing sites like YouTube to provide them. The lower-resolution, short segments simply do not provide a useful enough delivery service for paid content, and upgrading the YouTube infrastructure to create a different style of service would probably cost far more than companies like Viacom are willing to pay. On top of that, YouTube is now owned by a company that's not always so friendly to copyrights, often siding with pesky consumers instead - Google.

If you compared YouTube to a fledgeling P2P network that could be influenced in its own copyright protection measures with the big dollar signs, the decision makes sense. YouTube is simply too mature, too controversial, and too difficult of a technology to convert into anything more useful than freely distributable content like trailers. A lot less money could be spent for a lot better returns through services like Joost, and DRM may be less of an issue.

Do you have a thought on Viacom's decision? How about the place that this leaves YouTube? Tell us your ideas in our forums.
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