Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Viacom Fights YouTube in Court, but That Won’t Stop It From Selling YouTube Ads

Google and Viacom are still fighting in court. But in the real world, they’re about to be partners, in a way: The cable network’s MTV unit is going to start selling ads on Google’s YouTube, via a new deal that makes it the sales rep for Warner Music Group’s (WMG) videos.

Got that?

I didn’t either, the first few times I read a press release from Warner announcing a new “industry-leading partnership” between the music label and MTV Networks. But in short, Warner is bringing in MTV to sell its digital inventory, replacing an earlier relationship with Outrigger, a boutique sales shop. And while the release has zero mention of Google (GOOG) or YouTube, MTV’s chief job will be to sell ads against Warner’s clips on the giant video site, which accounts for the vast majority of Warner’s video views.

It’s not uncommon for MTV to sell its own stuff on other people’s sites–it has a “Tribes” ad network that does that on properties around the Web. But as far as I can tell, this is the first time that it has sold other people’s inventory, and the first time it has sold ads on YouTube.

Which makes sense, given Google and Viacom’s (VIA) three-year court battle. That fight is going to keep going, by the way, if Viacom makes good on its promise to appeal Google’s summary judgment victory last week.

So how’s that sales relationship going to work? I’ve asked Google and Viacom for comment.

Meanwhile, in the “digital music makes strange bedfellows” category, I’m told that MTV isn’t the only company that Warner approached about repping its stuff on YouTube. Other potential candidates included Hulu, AOL and Vevo.

That last one may raise some eyebrows, given that Warner is the only big music label that isn’t working with Vevo–which is supposed to be the “Hulu for music videos.”

But if MTV can sell ads on YouTube while fighting it in court, I guess anything can happen.