This morning's Wall Street Journal has a informative piece by Amir Efrati about how Everyday Health's popular YouTube show "Recipe Rehab" is heading to syndication on ABC stations and how the YouTube and ABC incarnations of the show will cross-promote each other.
Most importantly, the Journal reports that YouTube is hoping that it's $150 million original content initiative "will challenge the supremacy of TV and cable in the minds of advertisers."
But today's news does nothing to challenge TV, and that's what the article misses.
While ABC grabbing a YouTube show -- the way Cartoon Network grabbed "Annoying Orange" earlier this year -- is a triumph for the content creators and (one hopes) an economic win for Google's YouTube as well, it reinforces that the big screen in the living room is still the big daddy when it comes to advertising.
Right now, YouTube functions as an effective and powerful farm team for TV content producers and an incredible set of data for Google's search algorithm, but the real win -- the magical "I Love Lucy" moment for online video -- will only happen when advertisers flock to a series of online video content that can be measured in GRPs and offer TV dollars… and without additional distribution of that content to TV.
Will a YouTube video ever hit TV impact?
Yes, but probably not the way we expect. As TV audiences continue to fragment (see UM exec David Cohen's remarks on this in the WSJ article) and as YouTube's ability to distribute its content to the big screen increases via widgets on Blu-Ray players and the like, we'll see a glacial leveling of the playing field where TV and online disappear as categories and we just have video.
The advent of heads-up displays like Google's own Project Glass might inflect how we watch video in ways I cannot predict.
And as DVRs slowly increase their penetration and use -- which means that most content will become on-demand content rather than appointment viewing where lots of folks watch the same thing at the same time -- the usage and advertising playing fields will level even more.
But that's not what happened with "Recipe Rehab."