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Slowly it seems everyone is coming round to the idea that content owners and developers and a new generation of distributors need to start working together. What interests me is how those content developers increasingly see social media as a valid outlet.

YouTube has announced that it’s going to start renting more than 3,000 mainstream movies for as little as 99 cents each. That marks a real opportunity for quality shift for YouTube, from home videos to slick studio-quality product. But it also shows another move towards smarter monetisation of the social media model for both parties.

The term ‘market share’ takes on new meaning in this context, in that it combines the marketable product of the studios with the massive sharing networks of the big social media outlets. One thing that YouTube, the film studios and Facebook share that I think offers real opportunities for these various emerging alliances to work: they absolutely understand the need to keep people involved and interested. Their presence and growth is predicated on that – even if they have, and continue to, come at generating much of that involvement and interest from different angles.

I don’t see that synergy in the other big tech news of the week – the Skype acquisition. What I see there is Microsoft buying a very large customer base for a lot of money that by and large is very used to paying nothing for the service they get and that may or may not be Microsoft-friendly. YouTube visitors by contrast are already watching movies. This latest development just shape-shifts the nature and scope of what viewers have available to them.

The deals are interesting, but what we’re seeing here in my view is the start of a bigger showdown. The rise of content is ubiquitous. Now the fight is on in terms of how to manage that between brands that are bought and brands that stay separate but share. Control vs flexibility – an age-old dilemma, reiterated.


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