Monday, February 18, 2008

NBC clamps down on SNL videos

I haven’t posted a rant in a while, so I should remedy that. This is way, way behind the times—in fact, it’s almost the one year anniversary of the article I’m linking to—but I didn’t read about it until today.

I was on YouTube, looking for Saturday Night Live videos, and I was only able to find one—and a very old one, at that. (Favourite line from the clip: “My husband, thank God, was killed instantly.”) There might have been more, buried in there somewhere, but I couldn’t find them. While I was there, I was reminded about the “I Need More Cowbell” skit, and ashamed that I haven’t posted it to my blog yet. I figured I might have more luck with a more detailed search, but that skit wasn’t on YouTube either.

This started to make me suspicious; has NBC clamped down on their videos? And yes, in fact, that’s exactly what they’ve done. (See? The article was from February 20th, 2006. I told you I was behind the times.) I can’t believe how amazingly short-sighted they would be, to do this. Especially since— well, let me quote the article:

Several online commentators noted that NBC’s response to YouTube, while legally justified, may have been short-sighted. The online popularity of “Lazy Sunday” has been credited with reviving interest in “Saturday Night Live” at a time when it is in need of some buzz.
To say the least! SNL had been pretty lousy, for a long time, and the Digital Shorts were bringing it new life, and a new audience. Think how many new viewers they would have had the Saturday after Lazy Sunday was posted, from people who’d seen it on YouTube, and were looking for more of the same.

Unfortunately, when faced with the unknown, the lawyers did what lawyers do. Not only did they have the videos removed from YouTube and Google Video, but, according to a complaint I read from someone (in the comments of NBC’s SNL site), they also removed them from iTunes. Yes, that’s right, you can’t even buy SNL clips anymore.

“Okay,” I’m thinking to myself, “that probably means they want to drive more traffic to their website. I know they have videos there.” So I go to the NBC website for SNL, and they add insult to injury; the site is terrible.
  • The site is tortoiselike.
  • When you go to their videos section, there is a default video, which starts to play automatically. (After the wait—did I mention how slow the site is?) Unfortunately, the default video doesn’t exist—it plays a commercial, and then puts up a message, saying that the clip I’ve “selected” isn’t available in my “location”. Wherever my location might be. (Maybe they detected that I’m in Canada, and they don’t show their videos to Canadians?)
  • There is no search feature. Looking for a particular video? Too bad. You’ll have to laboriously go through their archives. (And don’t forget the word of the day: tortoiselike. Click a link, and go get a coffee while you wait for the page to reload.) And if you go through the videos, and find one that you want? Watch another commercial, and then find out that the video is not available in your area.
  • After going through all of the videos for the 2000’s, and then all of the videos for Christopher Walken, they don’t have the cowbell video anyway. Such a popular SNL skit that it spawned a pop culture catch phrase, but they don’t have the video. They have one hundred and ninety-nine videos from the 2000’s, including a whole bunch that aren’t worth wasting your time on, but they don’t have that one. (You can find it online, on some sites—do a search—although maybe not for long.)
Maybe I should stay off the internet today, in case I find something else to make me angry. Then again, it’s “Family Day”, and half the people I work with are off today, so I don’t have as much to do as usual—so I’ll probably be online for a good portion of the day.

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