Brand Food For Thought – Case Study 1: YouTube Screening Room

There are so many examples of brands or sites innovating and re-inventing themselves these days, that I’ve decided to start a series that will feature cases I think are particularly interesting. I believe that there are always lessons to learn from people who do this well – lessons for marketers and for other brands, not to mention lessons for strategists like myself. I’ll try not to mention cases that are old, unless they are particularly valuable. So to start this off, I thought I’d mention the YouTube Screening Room.

Case Study: YouTube Screening Room

The YouTube Screening Room is a new YouTube sub-site that is dedicated to showing top films around the world, with the premiere of a new film every Friday. Most of the films shown are between 5 and 20 minutes in length, and obviously they are put up with the permission of the filmmakers. Having done the round of international film festivals, you get the chance to watch them from the comfort of your own home, courtesy YouTube.

The YouTube story till now, in a nutshell: One of the biggest online success stories in recent times, YouTube was started in 2005 as a site to upload user-generated content. In less than two years, Google acquired it for US$1.65 billion. From teenagers uploading videos of themselves imitating their favourite actor, to actual clips of films themselves, YouTube took off with a bang. However, as it gained increasing popularity among the online community, it started facing a lot of criticism as well as lawsuits from TV networks and production houses whose programmes were being put up online by YouTube users in direct violation of copyright laws. In July 2008, YouTube lost a lawsuit filed by Viacom and was mandated to hand over information pertaining to all viewers of videos on the site.

Take-aways:
From a public relations perspective, the introduction of the Screening Room silences detractors who claim that YouTube sanctions the uploading of films or clips illegally. (In fact, ever since the Viacom lawsuit, YouTube actually checks uploaded videos against original content through a system of digital fingerprints, in order to reduce copyright violation. I can vouch for this myself – many videos previously uploaded by other users, that I had searched for and added to my personal playlist on YouTube, have since been removed, stating copyright violation). It also sends the message that the brand is not only for riff-raff, as it were, but for more serious, original content creators as well. YouTube had a problem on their hand – and the Screening Room is an intelligent solution.

My thoughts: The YouTube Screening Room is primarily for new, independent films. If YouTube can actually follow the same legal method to obtain clips from older, more popular, commercial films and make those a part of the Screening Room as well, they will hit two birds with one stone. Maybe they’re already on it, who knows!

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