ITV's woes are well documented, both here and across media-land, with Michael Grade now fighting for his survival according to reports of recent investor meetings.
ITV's recent good news, Susan Boyle's outstanding challenge for global fame, has shown that when reality TV does discover a real talent, digital media can take content to a truly global audience within days. The clip of Boyle's appearance on the show has now had over 100 million hits on YouTube.
100 million hits is a huge amount of eyeballs, worth an estimated £1million+ in ad revenue, only ITV has failed to come to an agreement with Google, owner of YouTube, to allow for advertising to appear next to the clip. So no-one has made a penny out of the clip at all, not Google, not ITV, not Simon Cowell.
While negotiating (or holding out) for the right deal for the long term may well stand ITV in a better position with YouTube going forwards, it does smack of closing the stable door when the horse has not only bolted, but has gone on to win the 3.20 at Kempton Park. ITV's much trumpeted digital strategy for the past 3 years has been all about increasing views of ITV digital content. You'd have thought that at some point one of the phalanx of digital employees would have got a deal done with Google/YT already?
Obviously not. Which sums up what's been going wrong with ITV over the last few years. They were late into digital, they acquired badly, and relied on their single national market dominance to bully their way into a Global market. Only it doesn't work like that. Google don't need ITV. ITV desperately needs the revenue. If people prefer to go to YouTube to watch ITV content rather than go to ITV.com, then ITV have a serious structural problem in their digital business.
Will 100 million people watch on YouTube as Susan Boyle progresses through the rest of Britain's Got Talent? Probably. Will Google blink first? Probably not. I know which side of the negotiating table I'd rather be sat on.
More to follow on ITV I suspect over the next few weeks.