Mark Cuban cheers on Viacom with a lengthy diatribe on the naive idiocy of all-content-should-be-free idealists, GooTube's arrogance, and how Viacom has "already won." I agree with much of what Mark says, but I do think there are places here's where he's oversimplifying and/or missing an important point. To wit:
- No smart pundit I know is arguing that GooTube should be able to stream Viacom's content for free in perpetuity. On the contrary, the smart folks are simply hoping that Viacom and GooTube can work out a deal in which Viacom content is available on GooTube. Viacom appears to be happy to do such a deal--as long as Google forks over, say, $500 million, in advance. GooTube, meanwhile, appears to be happy to do it as long as Viacom demands, say, nothing in return. The hope is that the two companies can meet in the middle.
- Whether or not GooTube is able to host Viacom's content, it will do just fine. Currently, GooTube is in a similar position to a cable company selling a basic cable service and a menu of premium services. The cable company will make more if you buy premium services (and it will share some of the revenue with the content providers--just as GooTube will), but it will do just fine if you only buy basic cable. What the company has to do to get you to buy basic cable is assemble enough content that you find the service worthwhile. GooTube has already done this, and it will continue to attract millions of users whether or not another Viacom clip runs on the service ever again.
Here's what I would like to see--and I would be grateful to anyone who could refer me to (or send me) the info: a detailed analysis of GooTube's traffic streams. Specifically, a breakdown that shows the percentage of total views that are user-generated or licensed versus unlicensed. I continue to think that no single content company, no matter how powerful, has the leverage to force GooTube to sign a distribution deal at any price. If I'm wrong, however--if, say, Viacom's content accounts for, say, 35% of total streams--it would be nice to know that sooner rather than later.