Recent Viacom Moves Reflect Dedication to Monetization

Comedy Central’s launch last week of a Web site for “The Daily Show” and the collaboration of its parent company Viacom and other large media firms to prevent copyrighted video sharing represent Viacom’s dedication to monetizing its own content on its own properties. Ads available on thedailyshow.com also indicate continued experimentation with video ad formats and a transition away from :30 pre-roll.

Visitors to Comedy Central’s thedailyshow.com will have full access to view and share content from the past eight seasons of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” The Web site features nearly 16,000 video clips from the show dating back to 1999 when host Jon Stewart took over, and is sponsored by AT&T, Hyundai and TiVo, along with additional video and display advertising.

Daily Show content will be downloadable and shareable with sites including MySpace, Facebook and personal blogs. However, ads will only run with content viewed directly on the show’s site. Comedy Central is eschewing:30 pre-roll advertisements in favor of :05 pre-rolls, overlays and display ads, said Steve Albani, VP of corporate communications at Comedy Central.

“There are different levels of buys. You can have that pre-roll :05 title screen with a voice over or no voice over. Once you run into the clip there is a lower third overlay with the clip, similar to what you’d see on the show. Hopefully this ad model won’t upset viewers out there.”

Comedy Central parent company Viacom also recently joined together with media companies including CBS, Dailymotion, Fox Entertainment Group, Microsoft, MySpace, NBC Universal, Veoh Networks and The Walt Disney Company, to develop guidelines and filtering technology to block the upload of copyrighted materials to user generated video sharing sites. The companies will agree not to file infringement claims against sites that install their filtering technology, which would block infringing content before it’s shared with the public, as well as identify and remove links from sites that are commonly sharing that content. The group’s guidelines also call for a reviewing process to be put in place for content that was blocked in error.

For Viacom, both the site launch and filtering initiative can be considered extensions of its ongoing legal battle against Google’s YouTube; earlier this year Viacom filed suit against Google after requesting Viacom clips be taken off YouTube.

Steve Albani, VP of corporate communications at Comedy Central, declined to comment specifically regarding whether sharing the entire library of Daily Show clips was in response to the YouTube suit, but did say the cable channel wants to bring the show’s viewers to its own site instead of “illegal download” sites.

“It’s great the people are talking about the show, and reviewing clips, but if people are going to be talking about this show, then they should do it here,” he said, adding the quality of the show’s video uploaded to other sites “would be extremely poor. ”

Jeremy Zweig, VP corporate relations at Viacom said the distribution of Daily Show content was a wholly separate project from Viacom’s collaborative efforts to curb upload of copyrighted content, but acknowledged Google and YouTube are not part of that working group.

Google also recently unveiled its own technology that will detect copyrighted material uploaded to YouTube, allowing copyright owners to remove the video or earn ad revenue from it.

Comedy Central plans to add video from previous Daily Show seasons early next year, bringing the number of clips closer to 20,000. The company is considering a similar site for another political comedy show, “The Colbert Report.” As each video is added, Comedy Central is tagging the clips based on topics to enable viewers to find other clips based on the same subject matter, said Albani.

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