Does HBO “Get” YouTube?


HBO officially launched their YouTube channel this week, providing clips from their shows and full episodes of In Treatment, the five days a week psychiatrist series that has garnered some critical praise but few viewers.

While HBO’s channel is all good and fine, there are lessons to be learned from the annals of YouTube history. You see, when it comes to YouTube, a few sorts of clips stand out from the pack.

First, controversial clips from new television shows. Let’s say Bill Maher says something on Real Time that gets viral pick up across the Web, or Bob Costas wrestles a bear on his show, or something. It would be in HBO’s best interest to get it up on their YouTube channel ASAP, so that when people look for it online, they get it from the source.

As Don Day noted on Lost Remote the other day, NBC and Hulu dropped the ball by not immediately getting clips from last weekend’s Saturday Night Live on the site. They were available on YouTube immediately, thanks to some quick thinking viewers, and that is where people went to find them.

The other sort of clip that works is taking an old video, be it a commercial, TV program or film clip, and breathing new life into it thanks to the Web.

Case in point would be these AT&T “You Will” commercials from the early 1990’s. The clips look at future technologies, and were surprisingly prescient, though AT&T was not responsible for any of the technologies in question going mainstream.

In HBO’s case, they put an interstitial—from 1983— that played in front of movies on the network on their YouTube channel. This is a big part of what makes YouTube cool, seeing stuff that would otherwise be relegated to an overcrowded archive in New Jersey (no offense to any overcrowded archives out there).

HBO’s YouTube channel isn’t perfect, there aren’t enough updates, they should add clips immediately after they air and there are too many promos compared to the number of clips, but uploading that video from 1983 gives me hope that someday soon, a television network, maybe even HBO, will finally “get” YouTube.

You know HBO’s slogan: “It’s Not TV, it’s HBO”? Well, YouTube isn’t TV either. So there’s no need to program it like one.

Check out HBO’s 1983 intro below, courtesy of HBO. Doesn’t it just scream "1980’s"?