The Secret of Chad Hurley and Steve Chen’s Famous “Two Kings” Video. Revealed!

chad hurley and steve chenRemember the era-defining video that Chad Hurley and Steve Chen made three years ago? The one where they looked simultaneously giddy, groggy, and perhaps a tiny bit intoxicated, and announced that they had sold their video site to Google for $1.65 billion?

That clip, it turns out, is an unlikely homage to…wait for it… the artist formerly known as Puff Daddy. Really!

Go ahead and look at the first two clips at the bottom of the post. Note Hurley’s reference to “salt and pepper” and “two kings getting together”. See? In the Diddy clip, too. Who knew? (OK, so at least one of you did).

Anyway, Hurley references both clips in a blog post he’s published this morning commemorating the anniversary of the sale. He also announces that the site is now serving up “well over” 1 billion video views a day (last month Comscore (SCOR) estimated YouTube was doing 10 billion views a month in the US.)

And there’s also some general talk about the site’s evolution: Rather than focus solely on short clips, it’s also working to bring in movies and TV shows, etc. Nothing you didn’t know already.

Expect to hear more meaningful — but equally upbeat –  talk about the site’s progress next Thursday, when Google (GOOG) announces its Q3 earnings.

Last quarter, Google executives went out of their way to talk up the site, and CFO Patrick Pichette said YouTube could start generating significant profits soon. This week, CEO Eric Schmidt also made a point of praising the YouTube deal, and the site’s performance during a New York press conference.

Here, once again, is that famous clip.

And here’s the one Hurley was apparently referencing.

And here, once again, is the most popular clip in YouTube’s history:

Has YouTube Finally Figured Out How to Play Nicely with Big Media?

YouTube snuck up on big media, then scared the hell out of it, then tried to do business with it, more or less unsuccessfully.

Now, three years after Google (GOOG) plunked down $1.6 billion for the video site, it seems to have figured out an approach that works for at least some big players: Hand over a chunk of the site to content creators, who get to control it, sell ads on it, program it with their stuff, and share some of the ad dollars.

It’s a pretty straightforward compromise: YouTube gets some of the ad dollars that “premium” content — stuff you’d see on a TV screen, basically — can generate; content-creators get access to the the gazillion eyeballs that the world’s biggest video site attracts. Examples: See the pacts that Sony (SNE), Disney (DIS), Time Warner’s (TWX) Turner, Warner Music Group (WMG) and Universal Music have hammered out in recent months.

And that sounds like the deal that YouTube and Britain’s Channel 4 have reached. Telegraph:

YouTube and Channel 4 have been in talks for at least the last six months and a contract is expected to be signed imminently. The Telegraph understands that Channel 4 has negotiated the right to sell its own advertising around its content on YouTube and share the revenue with the Google-owned site.

A senior television source close to Channel 4 said: “It was key for Channel 4 to be able to sell the advertising around its own inventory so it could extract maximum value from the deal and retain commercial control over its own property.

“When the Channel 4 content formally appears on YouTube, it will be branded exactly the same way as it is on the Channel 4 website. It will be a fully Channel 4 branded space and look as if someone has picked up 4 on Demand (Channel 4’s online catch up service) and put it on YouTube.”

.,.The partnership will be the first formal arrangement YouTube has agreed with a British broadcaster in which the majority of its content will be shown in full on the video-sharing site.

No comment from YouTube. If the report doesn’t pan out, I’m assuming it won’t have any impact on anyone reading this in the U.S.: The Web is worldwide, but these content deals tend to be specific to various territories, which means you won’t be able to watch British programming from the States. Fair enough: My non-US readers always gripe about not being able to watch Hulu clips.

Look Who’s Selling Warner Music’s Videos on YouTube: Veoh’s Sales Team

green_day_Last month Warner Music Group (WMG) won the ability to sell ads on its YouTube videos. Next step: Getting someone to sell ads on its YouTube videos, since the music label doesn’t have its own sales team.

Warner is handing those duties over to Outrigger Media, a New York-based rep firm that specializes in Web media  (Outrigger’s preferred description: “Internet video sales and marketing firm”), the companies announced today. (Oddly, Warner’s release goes on and on without ever once mentioning Google (GOOG) or YouTube once. Go figure.)

I’ll admit that I hadn’t heard of Outrigger before this morning, but I had heard of its CEO, Mike Henry, an ad sales veteran who was previously running ad sales for Veoh, one of the many video sites that aimed at becoming the next YouTube during the past few years. Turns out Henry is still running ad sales for Veoh — it has outsourced its ad sales business to his new company.

Warner’s strategy is different than the one that its rival Universal Music is taking with Vevo, the “Hulu for music videos” joint venture it has launched with Sony (SNE), with help from YouTube. Vevo is creating its own in-house sales force, to be led by Nokia and and Viacom vet David Kohl.

I can understand Warner’s reluctance to build one of its own — if you really want to do this stuff right, you’re looking at 20,30 people — but it seems that long-term, if the labels have a future, it’s going to be primarily as a sales and marketing force, and you’d want to make a bet on that now. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Spotify Promises a TV Service (in Sweden, of Course)

spotify-logoSpotify, the streaming music service Americans love talking about but can’t actually use, has given us even more to chat about: The company now promises to roll out some sort of TV service, some day.

Where? In Sweden, of course, which is where Spotify started, and which acts as a sort of test lab/best case scenario-provider for the service.

The company has announced a two-year deal with Telia, a European telco/Internet service provider, “to work together developing Spotify’s music service for computers, mobile phones and eventually TV as well.” No details about what that TV service might be, but the companies say a mobile offering will be available for Swedes within a “few months”.

That’s interesting, since Spotify already has a mobile offering: Subscribers to its premium service can use the company’s iPhone app, which Apple (AAPL) approved last month. No description of how the new service will differ.

It’s also worth noting that this is Spotify’s second deal with a Swedish ISP. It already has a linkup with Bredbandsbolaget, owned by Telenor, (TELNF) Scandinavian telco, which allows users to bundle their subscription fee with their Internet bill.

It’s also the only territory where the service has a bundling deal, and industry observers think that tie-up has a great deal to do with the company’s much-talked about success there.

Everywhere else, though, Spotify remains a work in progress. It claims 5.5 million users, but as of last month only about 100,000 of them were paying the company a monthly fee, according to people familiar with the service. It is currently trying to break into the US market, but has been mired in discussion with the big music labels — the same ones that have licensed the company in Europe — for months.

For more on the company’s plans, see this interview Kara Swisher conducted with cofounder Daniel Ek last month:


[ See post to watch video ]

The New Yorker Takes on Hollywood Power Blogger Nikki Finke

nikki-finkeA treat for those of you who love reading about Hollywood’s inner workings: 6,754 words in this week’s New Yorker dedicated to power blogger Nikki Finke, and those who fear her and/or read her. Which pretty much includes everyone in Hollywood.

It’s a classic New Yorker profile, which means it’s great and thorough read, though there’s not much in the way of news there. Writer Tad Friend mentions Jay Penske’s purchase of Finke’s services in passing, and there’s no update of Penske’s and Finke’s plans to expand the site.

For the record, in late June, Finke said she’d have a New York correspondent hired within three months;  four weeks ago, Penske told me said correspondent was going to be signed within two weeks. What’s the status now? “Not ready to comment right now,” Finke says via email. I’ve also asked Penske for an update.

Back to the story. There’s lots of inside baseball about the symbiosis between the studios and the people who write about them, and some smart reporting about the tradecraft of reporting, and how it’s been altered by the rise of blogging. I also detected at least a whiff of allusion to Janet Malcolm’s famous description of journalism, published in the New Yorker two decades ago:

Finke’s code is the Hollywood code. She is for hard work, big box-office, stars who remain loyal to their agents and publicists, and the little guy—until, that is, the big guy chats her up. Then she’s for that big guy until some other big guy calls to stick it to the first big guy. And this, too, is the Hollywood code: relationships are paramount but provisional. One executive observes that people who heed Finke’s call to snark about their competitors shouldn’t get too comfortable: “The idea is, The lion won’t eat me if I throw it another Christian. It works for a day, but you’re going back to the Colosseum soon.”

The bond between journalists and their sources is always complex—you’re friends with benefits, without being friends—but its contingent nature is particularly apparent in Hollywood. Finke’s sources can hear in her voice when she sounds low or unwell, and will ask if she needs anything. She’s grateful for the solicitude, but determined to maintain the barrier between her and those she calls “these people.” “A veterinarian treats animals—he’s not an animal,” she says.

What does Finke think? Glad you asked. She has an entire post dedicated to it, of course. The gist:

As I expected, it’s an amusing caricature, only occasionally true but hardly insightful. Still, I’m relieved that The New Yorker didn’t lay a glove on me. I found Tad Friend, who covers Hollywood from Brooklyn, easy to manipulate, as was David Remnick [the magazine's Pulitzer Prize-winning editor in chief] , whom I enjoyed bitchslapping throughout but especially during the very slipshod factchecking process.

No comment from Friend or the New Yorker’s PR staff, who sent me a copy of the article this afternoon.

Now on YouTube: David Letterman’s Amazing Extortion Video

This is the way the Internet is supposed to work: Something amazing happens on TV on Thursday night, and everyone talks about it, and watches it, on the Web on Friday.

Today’s example: David Letterman’s startling admission, broadcast on his CBS show last night, that a network employee had tried to extort him, using evidence that Letterman had sex with women who worked on his show.

That’s something you’re going to want to watch, right? And sure enough, the world’s largest video site obliges. Google’s YouTube (GOOG) is packed with clips of Letterman’s statement, which runs about 10 minutes.

None of them are supposed to be there, of course. And since CBS (CBS)  has a partnership with YouTube (that it doesn’t like to talk about but which is apparently a success for the network), YouTube will be playing whack-a-mole with uploaders for the rest of the day. They’ll throw the clips up, and the site, using its Content ID program, will hunt for them and take them down.

At some point it’s possible that CBS itself will put up an authorized clip on YouTube. But given that it hasn’t done so on its own Late Show site already, and that the network tends to be reluctant to put its best stuff on the Web under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Anyway, here’s one of the many clips, which tend to feature crummy video but acceptable audio. If it goes away, you’ll be able to find more here.

It will be interesting to see how this plays on the site. My hunch: Given that Letterman is 63 years old, and that the clip only involves him talking about the extortion attempt (as opposed to, say, jumping up on stage in the middle of an awards show) this may not be one of YouTube’s biggest hits. But we’ll see.

WTF? Web Throws Cheeseheads for a Loop.

wtf_logosInternet culture, you owe the good people of Wisconsin an apology.

There they were, just minding their own business. And trying to generate a bit more business via the Wisconsin Tourism Federation, a 30-year-old industry lobbying group.

And then you smart alecks have to go and point out that the group’s acronym has become a popular way for kids these days to express befuddlement, in an R-rated way. (If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, go ahead and type “WTF” into a text message and send it off to some of your pals under the age of, say, 40. They’ll spell it out for you.)

So the WTF had to go and change its logo, Web site and name. If you’re looking for “Wisconsin tourism industry’s unified voice in government relations,” you should Google “Tourism Federation of Wisconsin” from now on.

What a hassle! All of which could have been avoided if you people were less reliant on acronyms and F-bombs.

But since that’s unlikely to change, somebody ought to give Finite Matters Ltd. a heads-up, too.

[Before and after logos via The Register]