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ITV’s Grade – Me Thinks he Doth Protest Too Much!

22 September 2008 by Mother Superior

Beleaguered ITV boss Michael Grade has referred to online video sites, such as YouTube, as ‘parasites’ to commercial broadcasters.

In an interview at the IBC technology conference, the former Channel 4 and BBC man reportedly said operators such as YouTube, Google and Joost are “parasites” living off the TV shows and content created by the commercial broadcaster. However, he also added that he did not feel threatened by such entities.

The attack and then immediate brush-off smacks of desperation to me. Particularly as it comes from a man who finds himself steering a ship in increasingly troubled waters.

If ITV is not worried about Google then the organisation has its head in the sand. For a start, online advertising is already a bigger market than broadcast advertising. Brands are increasingly finding the internet to be a better shop window than TV and the reduction in ad revenue is at the core of the troubles commercial TV companies like ITV are facing.

As Google seems to be successfully siphoning off much of ITV’s ad revenue, I think Grade should not only be concerned about them but also prepared to learn a few lessons. Furthermore, Grade should actually embrace the positive opportunities that outfits like YouTube represent.

No one is going to watch whole pirated ITV shows on YouTube, however the broadcaster could have enticing two minute ‘taster’ clips available that will actually drive viewers to ITV’s portfolio of broadcast mediums.

With the right attitude, parasitical relationships can become symbiotic ones. In my view, Grade and ITV should be actively seeking YouTube exposure.