Americans seeking to watch Universal acts through the MTV website will now feel like they're British: they're just going to be told no, as Universal have withdrawn a licence deal which let MTV stream their videos.
Universal had been trying to force MTV to basically embed Vevo versions of their catalogue; MTV were quite keen to not slap in all the Google-centred advertising that would imply:
In a statement, Universal said: “MTVN has been unwilling to negotiate a fair syndication deal with Vevo to carry our artists’ videos and consequently our videos will not be shown on their online properties. We believe that using Vevo as our online music video syndication platform is the best way to maximize revenue for our artists, our songwriters and ourselves.”"... although, of course, not in that order."
MTV tried to put a brave face on it:
“We continue to seek out new and innovative ways to connect artists with their fans that are mutually beneficial to everyone. However, during our recent discussions with Vevo, we were unable to reach a fair and equitable agreement for rights to stream UMG artists’ music video content.” The company added that it was “disappointed” by Universal’s decision.The worry for MTV is the calculation by Universal that the brand value of the MTV name in bringing an audience is so small that it can happily cut them out of the equation.
Given that this a record label, and they're not exactly on their best turf when dealing with digital matters, Universal could be totally wrong, and MTV can probably cling to that if it's looking for hope. But given a focus on the mainstream, losing one-quarter of the majors is going to be a bit of a blow nevertheless.