Sunday, January 04, 2009

Is Andy Samberg's "Lazy Sunday" Responsible For YouTube's $1.5 Billion Sale?

How did YouTube turn itself into such an essential worldwide service that Google plunked down $1.5 billion in cash and prizes to acquire the video sharing site? It depends who you ask, of course, but NBC Universal's general counsel, Rick Cotton, has his own answer: the cupcake-munching white rappers of Lazy Sunday fame. In other words, NBC made it possible, but YouTube made all the money.

In this view, YouTube was a nice place for emo kids to post rants about Britney Spears, but this sort of stuff hardly made YouTube an essential visit. No, what built YouTube's brand was the flood of unauthorized commercial content sloshing around on the site a few years back--a heady time before Hulu et al. when one could reliably dig up episodes of The Simpsons, The Daily Show, or Saturday Night Live.

At a conference on the Future of Television this last week in New York, Cotton made it clear that he hasn't forgotten those early days. According to him, YouTube was vaulted into national popularity by SNL's hit "Lazy Sunday" rap about a pair of lame white guys from the Village who wanted nothing more than to spend a Sunday afternoon in the theater, watching The Chronicles of Narnia.

The infamous video, with is still somehow worth a 50,001st viewing:




Yeah, pretty much. Narnia Rap did put YouTube on the map and made it bigger than its competitors, but the content from there snowballed YouTube's popularity. Also, YouTube had one of the easiest to use interfaces, so that definitely helped.

So, should NBC get credit for the YouTube founder's wealth? Nah. NBC shouldn't even get credit for the vid. Sure, they own it, but they are just lucky enough to run the money behind Lorne, his magic show, and the amazing Andy Samberg. That's all. To the rest of us, it's just one rich guy in a suit versus another rich guy in a suit. They're all rich guys in suits. The real money should go to Andy and the creators.


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