Hollywood is funny to me. They moan and groan about new technology when it first comes out, mainly because it allows people to “rip them off”; but afterward, once the technology has been around and they have spent millions fighting it, Hollywood finally embraces it, claims it as their own and purports it to be the best thing since sliced bread.

The music industry shutdown Napster because the RIAA refused to embrace the newest format of digital music, only to “introduce” it as the latest and greatest thing ever with Apple and the iTunes store years later. Then YouTube came along a few years later and allowed people all over the world to enjoy video clips of their favorite shows that otherwise they would have missed. The movie and television industry tried to shut them down because the MPAA refused to conform and adapt its business model to a new format, one the consumer really wanted. Now, again years later, they show back up with Hulu, Veoh and other streaming video websites and try to make consumers think they came up with it first.

Case in point: Warner Bros. at one point was a leader in heading the protest and removal of YouTube. Now, years later, WB along with Turner Broadcasting have struck a major deal with the massive Google-owned video site to make video clips of their popular shows available for the masses. There is a catch though: the YouTube clips will be ad driven (makes sense) and will link back to the WBshop.com website to allow viewers to buy the full show on DVD.

WB/TB will offer programs from their spinoff networks, including Cartoon Network and CNN, on a branded YouTube channel.  A couple of months ago, we reported on Dimension Films doing the same thing with their horror films to help promote Halloween 2; it really is the latest rage in Hollywood to jump aboard the YouTube wagon. A few months ago, ABC, CBS, Sony Pictures and Starz all signed deals with the YouTube to stream full TV episodes and movies all supported by ads. HBO, also owned by Time Warner, has been making clips for its popular shows available on the site since last year.

Anyone notice a difference when comparing what WB has done to what the other companies have done? While the other organizations have made full movies and episodes available online with fifteen to thirty second ads scattered throughout, WB is only offering short clips of their property. You will still have to buy the ENTIRE season of Smallville to catch that one episode you missed when the power went out and your DVR wouldn’t work.

Time Warner chair-CEO Jeff Bewkes had this to say about the WB/YouTube deal:

“Working with YouTube, we expect to improve our ability to monetize this shortform content through new and creative advertising initiatives.”

Paraphrase: “This will give us a chance to promote our stuff even more by laying claim to something that was being done long before we made this deal.” I assume that’s what he meant by the words “new” and “creative”. Just one time, I would love to hear a CEO get in front of a camera and say “We really missed out on these opportunities years ago. Someone should slap us with a ruler for being thick-headed dimwits.” I would believe THAT speech a whole lot more.

Don’t know about you, but I’d rather watch an entire show on Hulu, rather than see a clip of the show on YouTube. And does anyone really want to buy TV DVDs anymore? Used to be that was the only way to watch a full season of a show you never caught – and unlike movies, shows rarely have a “rewatchabilty” factor to them (unless of course it’s Psych, Firefly or Dr. Who). $20 movie? Ok I’ll watch it 5 or 6 times; $50 TV show? Um, I’ll watch it once and then I’m done.

What do you think, is WB going the correct route by only offering clips online? Or should they have stepped up and offered  entire shows via ad driven content?

I’m off to watch the A-Team on Hulu; season 3 episode 5 and counting!

Source: Variety