Could Sumner Redstone’s Viacom, the media giant that’s suing Google for facilitating piracy of shows such as the Colbert Report, please get its act together? Viacom, despite its overall inability to adapt to the internet, has had a few isolated online successes. Best Week Ever, a cultural roundup which runs on Viacom’s VH1 cable network, was a particular pioneer, launching a funny promotional blog well before the practice became de rigeur among TV shows. When the once-hip media conglomerate unveiled its $1bn lawsuit against Google, execs passed down the word, internally, that bloggers were to stop using the enemy’s video service for clips. Some inhouse blogs, such as Comedy Central Insider, have dutifully switched to Viacom’s own video player.
Of 12 clips on the front page, no fewer than seven were hosted on Youtube. They include an old clip from Saturday Night Live, the NBC show, which was uploaded by Youtube user, extrujado, a play on the Spanish word for outlaw. Somehow, we doubt he’s the lawful owner. The Viacom blog also showcases a pirated clip from the Simpsons, the show owned by News Corporation’s Fox network.
To be fair, it’s hard to remember all the subsidiaries of a convoluted media conglomerate, let alone align them around a single position. Viacom’s bloggers probably kept on using Youtube simply because the interface is simple, the service efficient, and the library of clips the richest. But, before Viacom preaches about the sanctity of copyright, and the devotion of fans to its video stars, its execs should at least come to terms with the shift of younger viewers from clunky cable networks to sites such as Youtube. Sumner Redstone: really want to understand the continuing appeal of Youtube?