John Paczkowski

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Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman

Philippe Dauman

According to Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, traffic to Viacom-owned sites has surged since the company asked YouTube to remove its content. “We found that when we sent out the take-down notice to YouTube … we found traffic increasing back to our own sites,” he said earlier this year at the Bear Stearns Media Conference. “We are able to monetize that increased traffic; this is high-value traffic. The premium-branded advertisers aren’t, in my opinion, going to spend a lot of money for the YouTube viewers who are looking at the user-generated content of a cat going to the bathroom.”

Dauman, who sees little promotional value in having snippets of Viacom programs posted to YouTube, feels the company is entitled to advertising revenues tied to viewing of its programming. He should have some interesting things to say about the interview with YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen that preceded him.

  • Dauman’s appearance is prefaced by what’s easily the best video intro of the conference, featuring Stephen Colbert.
  • 10:25 a.m.: Kara: So you know the YouTube guys? Dauman: Oh, yeah. Good guys.
  • First topic: Copyright and the YouTube suit.Dauman: I didn’t want to sue YouTube. I’m all about doing deals. We’re about having our content on every platform, everywhere in the world. … I was very interested to hear Chad and Steve talking about educating consumers about copyright earlier today. Perhaps I’ve given them a graduate degree in copyright law.
  • 10:30 a.m. Dauman says he was happy to work with YouTube to hammer out an agreement. But he said they didn’t seem happy with the terms. Talks may have broken down over advertising terms.
  • Dauman draws a parallel between Viacom’s content and Google’s search algorithm, which it protects viciously. Guess he feels Google would sue if, say, Viacom scrolled the Google search algorithm across the “Daily Show.”
  • 10:35 a.m.: Dauman notes the inefficiencies in DMCA take-down notice protocols. Viacom had to search YouTube every day to uncover its content, a costly procedure. He feels YouTube, which is already screening content for porn, etc., could have handled this process much more easily. Dauman feels it’s unfair that the onus is on content providers to police their own content. He notes that a week after it sent its YouTube take-down notices, a “South Park” clip was the No. 1 video on YouTube.
  • 10:40 a.m. Dauman suggests that Google felt that no one would challenge YouTube on copyright issues because it views itself as “a cool company.”
  • Moving on to new business … “We’re very interested in virtual worlds. … but we’re not technologists, so we’re focusing on our core competencies.”
  • 10:45 p.m. Where is film distribution headed? Dauman notes that there has been progress in converting theaters to digital. Kara is dubious … follows up with a question about day-and-date release. When will it happen? Dauman says not for a few years. Kara: Why, because you don’t want it to? Dauman: We must have release windows.
  • 10:50 a.m.: Dauman continues that people still like going to see films in theaters. Kara argues that day-and-date pay-per-view and DVD releases could be a very profitible business. Dauman doesn’t disagree, but seems to feel consumers aren’t ready for it. Insists it’s not the right time and we won’t see it for a few years.
    Kara asks if theater owners would follow through on their threat to blackball studios that agreed to day-and-date releases of new films. Dauman: Yes. Their livelihoods are at stake.
  • 11 a.m. On to questions, after a quick quip from Kara: “You’re not going to sue me if we put up this Colbert video are you?”
  • Interview ends.

More coverage at The Wall Street Journal

Philippe Dauman Session Photos

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