@ Mipcom: Chad Hurley Keynote: ‘No Silver Bullet’ To YouTube Profit

imageA prosaic and clear business pitch from an initially nervous YouTube CEO to international TV execs at Cannes’ Mipcom broadcasting conference: “We want to continue to be your partner … let’s talk backstage”.

Well, YouTube may have over 900 pro media partners alongside the skateboarding dogs nowadays (and new deals with RAI and Panini announced this week) – but lawsuits from Viacom (NYSE: VIA), Telecinco, TF1, Mediaset et al suggest its favored branded channels model has far from convinced the entire TV industry yet…

Moderator Ross Westgate (CNBC) suggested what Hurley called “partners” are actually “frenemies”; “it’s a truly mixed up landscape we’re going in to” – but Hurley wouldn’t bite, talking again instead about partnerships and inevitable overlaps, in a pitch that heavily sold “reach, revenue and rights management” to TV folk: “For those of you wary of this new distribution model, understand that YouTube exists to give you control … do you circle ranks and push against change?”

“I always get the question, ‘where’s the revenue, when are you guys going to make money?’ I don’t think there’s going to be a silver bullet that answers all those questions – we’re developing a suite of solutions for people to be creative and see how the audience engages with those (different forms of) ads.” Hurley joked: “We act confident, get up on stage and pretend we have all the answers – but we surely don’t.”

On Google: “They’ve continued to tell us to focus on the user; we’ve been doing that. They feel if we do that we’ll have a good model for monetization in the future … (because) it’s important that content producers be paid for what they make.”

Westgate wondered if YouTube’s share of the web video market could attract antitrust investigators – something he said could be soothed by licensing YouTube’s underlying components to those partners (ever heard of an API?: “We’re definitely looking at opportunities to do that. We don’t necessarily want the entire online video market to suffer because of that. We’re definitely looking at those options to help support everyone in the online video world.”

Challenges to address: Hurley acknowledged a concern I heard a lot in town last night – that YouTube’s too big to find any decent content: “We still have a lot of work to do on the discovery site – when you’re receiving 13 hours of content a minute it’s, its impossible to watch everything; there need to be better ways of finding content.”

New CBS (NYSE: CBS) long-form partnership: Hurley said CBS’ channel has had over 8,000 subscriptions and 250 million video views: “CBS has received a strong and positive response from the YouTube community about the quality of its programming.” He told Westgate broadcasters like CBS had earlier been reluctant to come aboard because “the business reasons” weren’t there, referring to available advertising options; now available ad formats are growing.

A remark in a later panel from Joost’s chief creative guy Henrik Werdelin: “I don’t think they’ve found a way to satisfy their customers that they can monetize their content.”