Update: The NYTimes is now reporting that according to people involved in the talks, Google and YouTube will have separate board meetings today to approve a deal between them and could announce an acquisition after trading ends.
Acquisition was not yet among this morning’s early announcements, but several more content deals were unveiled today between Google, YouTube and big content publishers. Warner Music and Sony BMG will allow Google to play music videos and various value added content like artist interviews. According to the Financial Times, Google also said that “it would develop technology that would enable users to include certain content in videos that they create and upload to Google Video.” That sounds a lot like the copyright detecting technology YouTube touted when it signed its own deal with Warner last month. The FT reported that there would be both ad supported free content provided in the deal as well as downloads priced at $1.99. So far this morning free videos from Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Panic! At the Disco, John Mayer and Green Day are highlighted on the front page of Google Video. Don’t rush over all at once, please.
Meanwhile, YouTube announced deals this morning with CBS, Vivendi’s Universal Music Group and Sony BMG. CBS will populate a branded channel on YouTube with clips from Survivor, previews of upcoming shows and other content. Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG announced deals almost identical to the Warner deal last month and today with Google; featured content and permission for users to reuse content in the context of automated copyright detection.
What does it all mean? Unless copyrighted content detection just happened to be announced by Google at the same time a possible acquisition of YouTube and their technology was under discussion – that alone may rightly add more fuel to the fire. I was wondering last night whether this was in part a technology acquisition by Google and not just aimed at pulling in the community of users. It’s also entirely possible that Google has built its own copyrighted content detection technology. We covered a startup, Guba, that announced its own in July.
No matter what it says about a possible acquisition, today’s early announcements are a sign that YouTube and its deal with Warner were both important trail blazers for things to come.