Spain tunes in to YouTube

Audiovisual Sports miffed by soccer clip


And what a goal it was. On April 18, in a Barcelona-Getafe soccer game, Argentinian Leo Messi dribbled 55 yards past five flailing defenders before slotting the ball in the back of Getafe’s net.

The run lasted 11 seconds. It drove fans into spasms of ecstasy.

And it created Spain’s first high-profile YouTube rumpus.

Two hours after the goal, clips of Messi’s masterpiece inundated YouTube.

Spain’s Audiovisual Sports, which holds Spanish Soccer League TV rights, had already sublicensed goal highlights to the Web sites of top-selling newspapers El Pais and El Mundo as well as sports daily Marca. It asked for the clips to be removed from YouTube.

YouTube obliged. But one week later, YouTube boasted 204 uploads of Messi’s goal under “goal,” “Messi” and “Getafe.”

Audiovisual Sports is miffed. “YouTube gave us to understand that our legally acquired contents would not run on its portal,” say company sources.

Spain is different in many things. In YouTube strategies and challenges, however, it seems startlingly familiar. For companies, it is a marketing dream, for rights-holders, a monetizing conundrum.

Broadcaster Antena 3 TV bowed a channel on YouTube in mid-March. It shows news items, celeb shows and yakker highlights and promos. Cuatro (again, promos, gags and news), Catalan pubcaster TVC (ditto) and Barcelona soccer club (press conferences, training excerpts) have followed suit.

“It took time to get our mind around it,” Antena 3 new business general manager Giorgio Sbampato has admitted. But YouTube was a “perfect form of promoting” A3 programming he adds.

Borja Cobeaga had his Academy-nommed short, “Eramos Pocos” YouTubed. He’s thankful. “It gets it seen,” he says.

For lower-profile helmers, YouTube’s a business or artistic card, and promotion.

But specific commercial tie-ins are elusive. Capturing the psychedelic contortions of jellyfish affected by global warming, Albert Arizza’s YouTube-sode “Jellyfish Invasion” had received 781,274 hits by late April.

“I YouTubed the piece to test the effect. We get lots of mail. New York rock band the Vandelles, which saw it on MySpace, has asked permission to use the images in its concerts. It gets attention, to sell the images, to sell to cell phone operators.” But Arizza hasn’t closed any deal.

“We haven’t been called by any film producer as yet,” says Arizza, who has his first feature, “Ramirez,” in development.

Guillermo Zapata’s “Lo que quieras oir,” had notched 5.2 million hits by late April.

“You get hits, comments, blogged,” he notes. “That opens doors. If you send your screenplay to a production house, at least it gets read.”

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