Two jewels in YouTube’s crown this week: The user-driven video site has now served over 1 billion subscribers…and has driven a billion views to Lady Gaga. The former is a number that has nowhere to go, but up. As we learned this morning, rifts like the one keeping Cablevision and FOX Networks from working together to bring viewers their favorite programming means that a large source of revenue is currently going untapped. The sales funnel only works if you’ve got something to pour into the wide end of the funnel.
During this split, advertisers are losing out–in incredible volume–the chance to affect countless would-be customers. In turn, FOX is also losing a lot of revenue. The network is mismanaging customer trust and advertising partnerships–and encouraging both segments to take a long, hard look at other options, possibly YouTube, as an alternative. And Cablevision subscribers can’t even rely on the YouTube-like service Hulu to legally provide FOX content to them, as that content has been blacked out.
Besides headaches, this means that the gradual shift of viewer habits from TV to laptop now could result in a sea change inevitably. Most of it hinges on a critical mass of frustrated advertisers stopping business with FOX–deeming an outlet like YouTube a more worthwhile investment. Also, the legal dirt doesn’t appear as messy. A viewer can, for example, watch keyboard cat and the user providing that video can choose to monetize that clip by uploading display ad overlays targeting the male 18-34 year-old demo that YouTube has indicated as being the biggest fans of this particular clip.
This milestone also means that YouTube is finally entering the fray as a serious contender against broadcast. Bringing it back to Lady Gaga–who herself is probably one of the biggest new media marketing phenomenons lately–the pop singer is simply a case study proving the influence of YouTube. Create compelling content–commercial or otherwise–and it will sell itself. People will talk, tweet, and Facebook about it; the brand will, in essence, replicate. Other brands–emerging companies, especially–will no doubt create content meant to be shared. It cuts the costs associated with distributing an ad campaign and sells itself. Viral content can’t be blacked out, either.
Broadcast outlets lack this feature, which, coupled with countless potential scenarios akin to Cablevision vs. FOX, make it a matter of time before most of the big players retreat completely to YouTube or similar outlets.