The long-running rumors are true: NBC and Fox are teaming on a free, ad-supported online video service to challenge Google's YouTube. The real news in today's announcement is the list of distribution partners, which includes MySpace, AOL, MSN and Yahoo! - just about every major player except Google and Apple.
A lot of the buzzing in the blogosphere is about what this means for GooTube. Some analysts are skeptical that the new partners can play nice, get the model right and execute well enough. But the combination of companies and content add up to a serious player that will consume serious bandwidth. "This is a game changer for Internet video," said Peter Chernin, President and Chief Operating Officer of News Corporation. "We'll have access to just about the entire U.S. Internet audience at launch." NBC's Jeff Zucker: "Anyone who believes in the value of ubiquitous distribution will find this announcement incredibly exciting." That group no doubt includes Akamai (AKAM) , Limelight Networks and Equinix (EQIX).
Akamai provides content distribution for NBC's web site, while Fox/MySpace uses the privately-held Limelight for its CDN needs. Equinix runs the peering back-end for MySpace's in-house video streaming solution, and also lists NBC parent General Electric as a client. It's a safe bet that more video will be traveling through those networks once the new service debuts.
The NBC/Fox effort, along with Joost, will continue to build the audience for online video and the volume of video moving across the network. As we noted in January, some peering industry veterans are expressing concern about whether network infrastructure upgrades can keep pace with Internet traffic growth. If there's too much traffic and not enough bandwidth, that equation will normalize itself very quickly. That's a better scenario than too much bandwidth and not enough demand. We've been there and done that.