On the same day Viacom filed a $1bln lawsuit against Google’s YouTube for copyright violations, digital gurus convened in Hollywood to, among other things, figure out how content owners can monetize the social networking and user-generated content craze. Some gathered at iHollywood Forum’s Digital Media Summit on Tues questioned whether the Viacom- YouTube suit will solve anything. "The winner won’t be either one of these companies," said AOL Video svp Fred McIntyre. "The company that figures out a business model around that will win. That’s what Apple did… There’s a tremendous opportunity to build a business." Keith Richman, CEO of user-generated site Break.com, echoed long-held suspicions among dot-commers when he said there’s a "reasonable chance" that many clips uploaded to U-G content sites come from people within those companies’ own marketing depts. Most agreed that monetization is the key to bringing parties together. Josh Felser, pres of Sony-owned Grouper Networks, said his U-G site grouper.com will start running interstitial ads in April but admitted that pre-roll ads attached to video clips have been "difficult" to foist on consumers. He suggested that advertisers cut from 15 secs to 10 secs the typical pre-roll spot. Donald Wong, vp of Sony Pictures Ent’s digital media initiative, said one frustration for big media execs is that authorizing content for dozens of online communities would require encoding clips several times to fit all the different filtering systems. "We don’t want to have to fingerprint our library 14 times," he said, noting that "everyone needs to come together" to create one filtering system that all U-G content/social networking sites could use. He said that would also lead to easier ad serving across platforms. Matthew Evans, NBCU’s vp, digital media, said all sides face challenges but are already "making some headway… We’re all working together to figure out the best way to overcome them."

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