YouTube ‘Learned a Lot’ from Originals Push

NEW YORK — The settlement between Google and Viacom that ended a seven-year legal battle over the appearance of copyrighted video on YouTube is indicative of a greater acceptance of YouTube in the media world, Laura Lee, head of entertainment at YouTube/Google, said at last week’s Next TV Summit here.

“I can say we’re really pleased with the outcome,” Lee said in an interview with Broadcasting & Cable executive editor Dade Hayes, noting that her legal team would be less than pleased if she commented further. “I think it does definitely show that there are many different inflection points in our relationships, if you will, with traditional media. And I think it’s really been leading up to this crescendo.”

Lee noted that when she was an executive at MTV several years ago, the network regarded YouTube with a certain amount of distrust. Since then, she added, talkshow hosts such as Jimmy Kimmel, Ellen DeGeneres and Jimmy Fallon have used it to engage their audiences, creating an overlap between the site and linear television that couldn’t have existed a few years ago. DeGeneres’s channel, for instance, is the 17th-most popular on YouTube, Lee said.

Asked about the current state of YouTube’s push into developing original content — which began with a splash in 2011 when the company announced it would invest $100 million dollars to create its own original channels with partners ranging from Jay-Z to Reuters — Lee characterized the move as a valuable experience.

“We’ve learned a lot from that,” she said. “For us it was a really big jump into a world that you all know well. What it really got us smart about was how to shine a spotlight on certain categories. Some of them worked out really well for us. Some of them didn’t.”

Daniel Holloway is programming editor of B&C.