To many in the industry, YouTube, launched in February 2005, and other sites like it are potential enemies, the TV version of Napster, whose early reputation as a song-piracy enabler made it a pariah to record companies. After all, in addition to allowing people like Brodack to distribute their own work, these sharing sites also allow the free exchange of previously broadcast, copyrighted material — exactly the kind of stuff that studio executives hope to make big syndication and DVD dollars from down the road.
That’s why in February, NBC, Daly’s own employer, asked YouTube to take down the “Saturday Night Live” clip “Lazy Sunday” â€” even though the site was largely responsible for turning the rap spoof into an Internet sensation. (NBC now sells “Lazy Sunday” for $1.99 on the Apple’s iTunes site, though you can still watch it free plenty of other places online). C-SPAN, of all networks, last month demanded that YouTube remove videos of Stephen Colbert’s infamous address at the White House Correspondents Dinner.
[…] But [Carson] Daly isn’t alone in seeing YouTube as fertile frontier rather than pirates’ cove. Major TV studios have also started trolling YouTube and similar destinations for the next generation of acting and directing talent. In the process, the Web is offering the kind of instant connection to Hollywood that countless denizens of public-access talk shows have craved and seldom received.
For example, Twentieth Century Fox Television, producer of “The Simpsons” and “24,” has junior executives scouring the video-sharing sites. “We also have a casting executive assigned to discovering new talent, and these sites can be particularly fertile ground,” Jane Francis, senior vice president of Fox’s boutique programming arm Fox 21, said in a statement. “While these efforts have not yet resulted in a major piece of casting or story idea or project, we believe it is only a matter of time.”
In fact, the networks may need YouTube more than YouTube needs them.
[…] It doesn’t mean prime time will soon be filled with faux music videos by a teenager who borrowed his dad’s digital camera. As Daly put it, “I don’t think you’ll see a 30-minute sitcom made from someone’s bedroom.”
But at the very least, Hollywood’s gate-keeping practices might change: Schwabs’ Drugstore may have been reinvented, electronically.
“I just love it that no middleman is involved,” said Daly, who has yet to meet Brodack face to face but hopes to work with her on “webisodes” â€” Web-based video content â€” and other material. “There’s no agent, nothing. The pipeline is direct. I think it’s going to exponentially change how the business is run.”