Viacom to shut off MTV music video API

The media giant plans to restrict the embedding of music videos from MTV Network.

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Steven Musil
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Media giant Viacom plans to restrict the embedding of music videos from MTV Networks.

Justin Tormey, a staff member for MTVN developer services, announced in a blog posting Friday that starting next month, the company would no longer make video embeds available through MTV's API:

We've got a number of changes coming on the MTVN Content API. If you're currently using the API for your site or application please take note of the changes and the timeline.

First, we want to thank everyone for their involvement with the API. You've provided valuable feedback and insight through your usage, forum posts and comments.

Going forward we'll no longer be making our embeddable video player directly available to third-party developers. Specifically, starting in early March the nodes, which contain our embedded player, will no longer be published in any returns.

We'll also be updating our returns to include links to our videos on the new MTV Music site. The node will now contain these links.

While developers won't be able to incorporate MTVN's video content, apparently end users will still be able to use an embed code, but there's no word on whether this will change, according to an exchange TechCrunch had with MTVN.

Corporate communications representative Mark Jafar told the site:

All of our online video is and will remain embeddable for end users, just like Hulu. That includes music videos, clips, and full-episode content across MTV.com, VH1.com, ComedyCentral.com, and our entire Web portfolio.

The only thing we're pulling back is fully open access to our music video API, and it's purely an issue of economics. Every music video we stream through the API costs us money due to our deals with the record labels, regardless of whether an ad is attached or not. So, allowing developers to use the open music video API can be a money-losing proposition for us. However, we're absolutely open to extending the music video API to third-party publishers who are willing to work with us to monetize. It's all about striking that right balance between innovation and commerce as we continue to move forward and try new things.

As TechCrunch notes, when other TV media companies are embracing the distributive power of the Internet, it's sad to see a company resisting that opportunity.