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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Front Page WSJ Story on YouTube

Whenever I link to the Wall Street Journal, I get complaints from those of you who don't shell out the $$$ for a subscription. So apologies in advance.

But YouTube is the subject of a front-page piece in today's paper.

I bumped into YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley in a green room at the L.A. Film Festival last Friday. We'd been talking a lot on my panel about how some YouTube clips have attracted a giant audience -- in particular, we cited `Evolution of Dance' as an example. It has been seen more than 25 million times.

So I asked Chad whether video producers whose videos become popular might at some point switch on the cash register. Why couldn't the creator of `Evolution of Dance' decide that, after 10 million views, he would start charging 25 cents per download?

Hurely looked at me like I'd just fallen off the turnip truck. YouTube is a community, he said. It's about sharing video, not cranking up cash registers.

But it does sound, from the Journal piece, that YouTube is in the midst of launching a way to sell advertising around videos -- and that it will split the revenues with video creators. We'll see if that approach works better than Google's more commerce-oriented strategy -- which is more like setting up a cash register.

Kevin J. Delaney of the Journal reports that YouTube users are uploading 60,000 clips a day. A graph that accompanies the Journal article indicates that YouTube has now shot past MSN Video in popularity, with about twice as many visitors. Delaney writes that the "entertainment world [has begun] exploring how it might benefit from YouTube's audience."

    The Weinstein Co., a movie company run by producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, in April premiered the first eight minutes of the film "Lucky Number Slevin" on YouTube. Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Vantage movie unit last Friday posted exclusively on YouTube an 83-second animated clip poking fun at Al Gore to promote its "An Inconvenient Truth" film. By midday yesterday, it had been viewed nearly 600,000 times. "As a marketer you almost can't find a better place than YouTube to promote your movie," says Andrew Lin, vice president for interactive marketing at Paramount Vantage. Viacom owns YouTube rival ifilm.