Google’s early video deals crumble

(cross-posted from my Globe and Mail blog)

Not that long ago, Google seemed to be carving out a brave new world in online video. Just before it bought YouTube for the eye-popping sum of $1.6-billion, the company announced that it had signed deals with several content providers, including CBS, and there was talk of a wide-ranging deal with the latter to carry TV and radio programming, sell ads around it and share the revenue — an arrangement that the two were supposed to announce at the Consumer Electronics Show.

GoogleTV2.jpgInstead, as the Wall Street Journal reported in a recent story on Google’s TV troubles, Les Moonves of CBS said he couldn’t sign off on the deal and the big announcement with Google CEO Eric Schmidt was cancelled. Sources apparently told the WSJ that there were disagreements between CBS and Google over the length of the agreement, the content that would be included and so on. And Google has been having difficulty with other potential partners as well: Viacom, for example, has gone back and forth on its relationship with YouTube — last fall, it ordered the site to remove dozens of Comedy Central video clips and other material, but then the two signed an agreement to work together on content sharing.

Viacom, however, reportedly got impatient with the pace at which Google was introducing content controls, and recently ordered the company to pull about 100,000 videos from YouTube. And now Viacom has signed a content-sharing arrangement with Joost, as I discussed in an earlier post.

Are the networks just hoping to get more money, or are they leery of getting into bed with Google and not being able to get out again? One thing seems pretty clear: It’s not going to be quite as easy to forge relationships as Google may have thought when it first acquired YouTube.

Further reading:

PaidContent has a nice summary of all the things that haven’t been going Google’s way lately, and Business 2.0’s Next Net blog wonders whether Big Media needs YouTube or not. Cory at Lost Remote has also written about it.

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