The press is filled with articles about how Comcast’s (NASDAQ: CMCSA) NBC has tried to take every last hint of Matt Lauer’s time at the network and throw it in the trash. Lauer was fired for sexual harassment. However, both NBC employees and people who watched Lauer will find that he lives on, and will in perpetuity, on YouTube.
Lauer’s out-sized visibility on Alphabet’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) YouTube is an example of how social media allows things and people, which would have largely disappeared in the age of traditional media, to persist. There was no easy place to store Lauer’s TV presence in a fashion to which the public had access, decades ago. Even many NBC employee would have had little access to old tapes of Lauer’s shows back then.
The YouTube sections which contain Lauer videos are currently dominated by reports of his harassment and its aftermath. However, there are hundreds upon hundreds of videos of his interviews, the times when he hosted the Olympics, and clips which show the trips he took around the world for Today. Some of the videos have been viewed well over a million times, and others go back over a decade.
NBC may take all of Lauer’s pictures off its walls. The network may dismantle his office and destroy the famous button he had to lock his office door. But, long after the Today show is a daily TV program, Lauer will be leering back at anyone who wants to watch him on YouTube. Social media provides a very long tail