Just a year ago plenty of people (including me) would have said that the idea of a YouTube competitors that specializes in TV is silly. Why not put everything online video viewers want in one destination?
Hulu has proved us naysayers wrong. It turns out that a streamlined interface focused on television works great. The quality is better and it’s easy to find what we want. It also works well for advertisers because they know their messages are going up against content with which they are familiar, unlike the viral video sites.
As is so often its wont, the music industry has a message: Us too! According to CNET News (amongst others), Universal Music is in talks with Google to create a YouTube offshoot, tentatively titled Vevo, focused exclusively on music videos and related content. The other major labels, all of which are currently in talks with Google about renegotiating their deals to distribute content in YouTube, have been approached about joining.
The music biz, of course, is continuing to struggle with declining CD sales and looking for new revenue sources, from downloads to ringtones to video games. Music videos, once produced purely for promotion, are now viewed as a primary option. They’re already generating millions for the labels on sites like Yahoo and YouTube where they’re streamed.
But a Hulu-like site could do much better, giving music videos a brand of their own, controlled by the labels themselves (in part), and designed to attract the highest paying advertisers.
It could also be a big win for Google, which missed out on the action with Hulu. It’s still struggling to rejigger YouTube, and make deals with Hollywood content partners, to make up for the loss.
Do consumers want a site like that, though? The advantage for Hulu is that people often miss an episode of TV, or hear friends talking about it, and want to find it. That’s not true of music videos. Since MTV no longer shows them, Vevo would become the primary home for music videos, not a secondary one as Hulu is for TV.
Do consumers care enough about music videos to justify that kind of investment? Given that Universal Music has the number one most viewed video channel of all time on YouTube, it’s a decent bet.