NBC and YouTube, sitting in a tree

Not that long ago, NBC was beating up on YouTube.com for hosting copyright violations like the brilliant “Lazy Sunday” video clip from Saturday Night Live. This struck me as completely asinine, as I mentioned at the time, because the viral quality of the clip — which was downloaded more than 5 million times in a couple of weeks (and that during the Christmas holidays) — gave NBC and the normally lame SNL show millions of dollars worth of free publicity. Not only that, but telling YouTube to take it down made them look heavy-handed and uncool.

It seems that someone at NBC finally woke up and got a clue about the marketing impact of an event like that, and the potential that a site like YouTube offers, because the two have now struck a deal whereby the video site will promote clips of NBC’s new shows and host a contest as well. YouTube CEO Chad Hurley said that the deal is clear proof “that we’re building a viable, long-term business, and it’s showing there’s common ground between traditional and new media.”

This comes at the same time as Warner Brothers has struck a deal with a video site called Guba to sell and/or rent full-length movies and TV shows. Warner has also signed a partnership with Bram Cohen’s BitTorrent to use the peer-to-peer technology to distribute content. Of course, said content will be all crapped up with Microsoft’s DRM (digital rights management) restrictions, but it’s a start.

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