YouTube has announced that the wildly popular Nintendo Wii will offer a TV version of YouTube. YouTube for Television offers a “a dynamic, lean-back, 10-foot television viewing experience through a streamlined interface that enables you to discover, watch and share YouTube videos on any TV screen,” says YouTube on their corporate blog. The announcement joins a flurry of broadbandTV type announcements for the new year. It’s led to predictions aplenty about 2009 being ‘the year’ for Internet video.
Is the Wii/YouTube connection a glimpse into a true YouTube channel for the traditional television? Perhaps if YouTube builds up enough traditional TV viewers, they’ll begin to demand carriage fees from service providers, in much the same way cable networks do today. Maybe it’s YouTube’s answer to their long lost pursuit of a winning business model. While I may be adding some sarcasm to the analysis, you have to wonder what the end game is for YouTube and other web based content providers as they try to wedge their way into the living room. It’s unchartered territory that generates more questions than answers, at least from a business model perspective. Will the incremental ‘television’ audience yield some business model that has so far been elusive in a pure online world? In some regards this debate doesn’t matter, because the genie is out of the bottle on this issue. There’s a land rush to get Internet content to the television. Those leading the charge will figure out a business model later.