Superman and Time Warner Cheating YouTube?

Published Categorized as Marketing

kryptonitesuperman-749431.jpgShmuel Tennenhaus has just compiled an incredible video on his YouTube channel exposing some of the potential for fraud that exists on the YouTube platform.

Specifically, Shmuly has uncovered some of the dirt on this week’s #1 subscribed to YouTube channel, “SupermanReturnsDVD.”

While it’s not out of the realm of reality to suggest that the Man of Steel could rise to the level of YouTube stardom, realizing some of the tricks that Warner Brothers may be using to push the release of the Superman Returns DVD to the top of YouTube’s subscription list opens a rusty can of kryptonite on this whole marketing attempt.

Shmuly points out that there have been over 7,500 subscribers to the SupermanReturnsDVD channel just this week. However, there are only 9 videos in the channel, and there have been less video views than actual subscribers. In other words, more “people” have subscribed to the channel than actual videos viewed, which as Shmuly comments on, is simply ridiculous.

Additionally, many of the accounts subscribing to the SupermanReturnsDVD channel were created within the past week, have no favorites listed, have made no comments, have no friends, and are just linked to the SupermanReturnsDVD channel.

Perhaps even more disturbing in this context is the threats from Time Warner to sue YouTube for use of its material as copyright infringement. Dick Parsons, CEO of Time Warner, said in October:

“If you let one thing ignore your rights as an owner it makes it much more difficult to defend those rights when the next guy comes along.”

Even worse, Mr. Parsons, is when you attempt to game a user generated content site with inflated ratings and created user accounts because your company does not understand community, markets and the future.


  1. Shmuel…
    Excellent, insightful work with a payoff toward the end — a great laugh. You should continue to show off your insights. I’m not sure that Time Warner doesn’t understand the future so much as it is confused about it. I would guess that forces within the company restrain those which might be more aggressive about embracing new forms of digital rights management and/or the dismantling of it (new forms of monetization).

    Now… all we need is for Chris Boyd or Wayne Porter to sluth out the trail on this and expose the “subscriber stuffing” sham!

    Thanks to Sam for packaging this story in a way that is truly meaningful — powerful.

  2. Shmuel Tennenhaus bustin’ a cap in Time Warner’s ass!

    Nice find Schmuel. I see the vlogging is going well and glad to hear that you are on top of the shadiness of big corps on the internet. Keep up the good work!

  3. big deal, in about 3 more days, Youtube will figure out how to keep people or companies from spamming products/websites on created channels, and then Schmuel will be over his 3.44 minutes of fame.

    Can anyone say they are at all surprised? a big corporation using an online community to advertise a product in an invasive way? This isn’t an Enron level conspiracy, in fact its not a conspiracy at all, its guerrilla marketing. (duh…)

    If it pisses you off, don’t go and buy the Superman Returns DVD. Don’t watch it in all its glory of being directed by Bryan Singer (of Xmen fame), and don’t enjoy the nostalgia of superman or all of the glorious special features on the DVD.

    IN fact, when your friends ask you why you have superman 1-4 but not superman returns, tell them that its because of this crappy piece of journalistic media by Schmuel.

    Also, I don’t agree that this was an “incredible video”….I rate it a C-

    why not vlog in a office or bedroom where there aren’t people talking?

    Look, in the sky, its a bird, its a plane, its schmoe-ly doing a lame attempt at humor.

  4. If we all flagged the videos from supermanreturnsdvd as “use violation”, would that force youtube to consider removing this account?

  5. Joe Blow.
    Don’t be a douchebag!

    You sound like the “genius” that could have orchestrated the guerilla marketing campaign and is pissed because he/she got busted or like some youTuber trying to defend the current implementation and poor anti-spam filtering.

    It’s very valid to create awareness.

    If it pisses you off. Don’t watch it.

  6. A few months ago Taxbrain had a stunt with their Taxbrain Racecar being stolen (it was staged, yet real news picked it up as real) and the video was uploaded to YouTube and Google Video. And a lot of the comments were from Taxbrain people. These merchants/brands are going to go where the people are. So you’re going to be seeing a lot more of this stuff. And there’s probably people/businesses that are/will be specializing is this type of marketing. But probably a little better than this Superman example in the sense where it won’t be so easy to figure out.

  7. Who really cares? It’s marketing that we’ve seen done over and over and youtube is just another outlet for people to sell their product, sell themselves… whatever. It’s a free service so this is expected. Who know what other accounts are pushing out there…

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  9. it’s most likely the company that time warner has hired to work on its viral marketing, not time warner itself – they are not directly at fault but are rather condoning it by hiring companies that cheat to help promote their product.

  10. Hey guys,
    I have an iMac G5 running tiger 10.4.7 and I an having a wierd problem. Whenever I go to a site that has an embedded youtube, flash or some kind of video, there is no sound. If it a quicktime file there is no problem. There is not sound no matter what broswer I use, firefox, camino, safari, or shiira. And keep in mind that about a week ago I was not having this issue.

    Help Would be awesome

  11. Hi Maximilian-

    Not sure what the problem is… I use a G5 with Firefox and Flock to work on the site but haven’t experienced that problem with this site or others, and I watch a lot of YouTube vids and embeds. Do you have the same problems with Revver or Magnify embeds (for instance

    Outside of some security or macromedia setting that is restricting your sound on flash, I’m not sure what the problem could be. I’ll check to see if there’s anything on my G5’s setting which could show a similar problem.

    Let us know how it turns out-


  12. Yo anyone see superman returns? I loved that movie and i cant wait to pick up the dvd and game for xbox 360….i heard theres a code in the dvd that lets you play as bizzaro in the game, that should be pretty tight. Im lookin forward to gettin it at the end of the month.

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