Source: The Time
April 23, 2009

ITV, YouTube and Simon Cowell have missed sharing a million-pound windfall because they have failed to reach a deal to sell advertising against clips of Susan Boyle, the internet singing sensation.

The Scotswoman’s performance on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent has been watched more than 75 million times on YouTube in a fortnight, but the television network is insisting that no advertisements be shown against the clips while it negotiates with the Google-owned video site.

ITV believes that it should be able to negotiate special terms with YouTube that would allow it to introduce “pre-roll” adverts that play before programmes, a format that YouTube historically has disliked.

“We don’t want to be part of YouTube’s standard terms and conditions, because content like Susan Boyle is unique,” Ben McOwen Wilson, the director of online for ITV, said, adding that the broadcaster had been in negotiations with YouTube for several weeks. “I think both sides are being hard-nosed and commercial about it,” he said.

On a crude estimate, a video watched 75 million times could generate about $1.87 million, or £1.3 million. That amount of money generated by an advert depends on what country the viewer is in. In the United States, advertisers pay $20 to $35 to be seen by 1,000 people, while in the UK the figures are the same but in pounds, between £20 and £35 per thousand.

It does not matter whether clips are put up by fans or by ITV because YouTube insists that their commercial exploitation remains under the control of the copyright owner.

The most popular clip of Susan Boyle singing I Dreamed a Dream was put up by a fan using the nickname “BritainsSoTalented”. It has been seen 39.2 million times since it was uploaded on April 11.

YouTube said that, normally, it offered content owners “a majority of the advertising” generated from clips on its site, although it did not spell out what that proportion was.

YouTube prefers to use Google-style text ads and some overlay advertising that appears at the bottom of the screen while the video is playing.

ITV thinks that this method is not the most effective and this is at the heart of the dispute.

ITV wants to direct Britons to its website, which is generating 1.5 million unique visitors each day and which carries advertising aimed at UK residents — but Britons are only a minority of all Susan Boyle’s online viewers and most people from overseas are heading for YouTube because they have not heard of ITV.

A spokesman for YouTube said that the decision not to take advertising was ITV’s alone, adding: “Content owners often have many different priorities. Some seek to generate advertising revenue, while others use the service to promote their offline TV shows.”

Posted by: Chantal Biesheuvel