By PETER LAURIANovember 12, 2006 -- The backlash will be televised - or at least it will appear on broadband video.
On its path to video world domination, YouTube appears to have upset the one segment of its audience capable of bringing the site swiftly to its knees: the regular Joes chiefly responsible for its popularity.
That's the take at least from conversations with some of YouTube's more popular posters who feel increasingly disenfranchised with each new major corporate alliance the site enters into - with some of them even considering going so far as to post videos expressing their anger.
"It is starting to appear as though the regular guy doesn't have a chance on YouTube anymore," said Paul Robinett, who posts videos under the "renetto" moniker. "The majority of the content on YouTube belongs to people like me, yet they seem to be cutting deals with everyone that owns content but us."
Robinett, who has posted upwards of 130 videos and is ranked on the site's "most subscribed" list, said he is frustrated because it appears he is being crowded out by the increasing devotion to professionally produced content.
"There doesn't seem to be a fair and equal opportunity for us to be seen," Robinett lamented.
The list of deals that YouTube has cut is as long as it is varied.
The site has alliances in place with NBC, CBS, Warner Music Group, SonyBMG, Universal Music and Showtime, all of which share in the advertising revenue generated from their content.
At the same time, Paris Hilton and Diddy are among the celebrities that have dedicated channels on the site.
And while users were willing to turn a blind eye to YouTube's quick sellout to Google for $1.65 billion, recent reports of talks with Verizon to supply user-generated content to cellphone subscribers suggests to some that YouTube has reached the tipping point.
"I'm starting to feel some twinges of betrayal," said Ben Going, better known to YouTube users as Boh3M3. "They seem to be more money-oriented than I imagined."
Both Robinett and Going said they were contemplating posting videos expressing their disappointment with YouTube.
According to Mitch Oscar, executive vice president of Carat Digital, the corporate coziness, although necessary to sustain a viable business model, sacrifices the site's hip factor.
"What's happening to YouTube is kind of like the analogy about the revolutionaries who have come to change government, and then the politicians take over," Oscar said. "The corporations are taking the wildness out of the party."
YouTube declined an interview request for this story.
Julie Supan, the site's senior director of marketing, did say in an e-mail statement, "YouTube's business was built, in large part, by our community. The user experience will not change, we are committed to this and will continue to listen to our community's feedback."
Given that, consider then what "lonelygirl15" - the YouTube star "Bree" who's been revealed to be a scripted actress - had to say about the site: "There are really two kinds of YouTubers out there - those who want to profit and those who are just having a good time. I pretty much fall into the second camp. That being said, I would just love it if Chad [Hurley] and the other guy sent me some money. Come on, fellas! You're making billions! What's a couple thousand to you?"
Did you hear that YouTube?