Hitwise survey: YouTube dominates US video market

June 28, 2007

NewsLatest survey from Hitwise (which measures unique visitors to a site) shows YouTube with 60.2% of the U.S. traffic in May.

MySpace was second at 16.08% of the traffic.  Google Video, 7.8%. Yahoo, 2.77%.  MSN, 2.09%.

This means that YouTube has more U.S. traffic than the next 64 competitors in the market combined!

Analysis: For the companies looking for a “YouTube killer,” good luck.

MySpace TV gears up to do battle with YouTube

June 27, 2007

News: Many media companies are plotting to create the so-called “YouTube killer,” the site that will take down YouTube in videos. Today, it’s MySpace’s turn. MySpace is launching a new, freestanding site called MySpaceTV.com.   More about the new site here. Here are the key features:

1. Free standing website

2. Greater attempt to feature professional content over amateur ones. Sony is exclusively airing its “Minisodes” of Different Strokes, Silver Spoons, and Charlie’s Angels — which condense an episode into 5 minutes or less.


Analysis: MySpace is a serious competitor to YouTube. I would place it as No.2. As far as the changes go, I have a mixed review. First, I think having a free-standing site is a smart idea. That will help distinguish MySpaceTV from what most people will think about when they hear “MySpace,” the social networking site. On the other hand, I don’t like the design of the new website. It looks almost exactly like the regular MySpace website. MySpace needs to distinguish the look of the site more, so that people know it’s about videos. As it is, the site’s so cluttered. There’s just too much going on there to crowd out the video component. Finally, if MySpace wants to take a gamble on professional content over amateur content, then it needs to highlight the professional content on the front page. At least in my quick review, I couldn’t find any mention of Sony’s “Minisodes” of Different Strokes, Silver Spoons, and Charlie’s Angels. Although I probably wouldn’t bet against amateur user-generated content myself, I really love the Minisodes idea.

Here’s one Minisode video of Charlie’s Angels. If you go to MySpaceTV and search for the shows, you can find more.

Washington Post goes video, On Being

May 2, 2007


I have just seen the coolest video interface ever made.  Once you scroll over, the video images scroll over with your mouse.  The look is similar to Windows Vista, only better.   You can find it on the Washington Post website, for a new feature called “On Being.”  Every Wednesday, the Post will interview people and post their videos discussing life; you can also add your own comment.  It’s meant to increase community, aka “social networking” in the Web 2.0 world.

Does YouTube deserve a C- for its dealmaking?

March 5, 2007

News: Washington Post writer Sara Kehaulani Goo has written an article titled “YouTube struggles despite dominance.”  According to the article, Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research said, “‘I give them a C-minus [in dealmaking]. When you negotiate with a media company, you have to demonstrate respect for their content.” He said YouTube needed to use more sophisticated technology to prevent the unauthorized uploads, which would in turn help foster more trust between YouTube and the media companies. ‘There is software out there — it’s not perfect, but it’s out there.'”

Analysis:   I agree there were a few hiccups in the past month with YouTube.  Lost deals with CBS and Viacom, plus rumblings from Universal.  But Google CEO Eric Schmidt did seem to right the ship by his public comments.  And I still think it’s significant no big media content provider has sued YouTube yet.  This may be because, as Scott Kessler of Standard & Poor’s said, “If these companies want to distribute their video content online for free or supported by advertising, they need YouTube more than YouTube needs them.”

Should TV networks create their own YouTube to beat Google’s YouTube?

December 14, 2006

News: The major TV networks or their parent companies reportedly (according to WSJ) are considering developing their own joint video site to compete with YouTube. Nothing’s definite yet, but at least there have been discussions.

Rick Aristotle Munarriz has doubts about such a venture’s likelihood of success, if attempted, in a wonderfully written article in the Motley Fool. One of the main criticisms is that the TV networks will have a hard time competing with truly user-created content or user-generated buzz for viral videos. The TV networks will be more of a top-down-approach, transplanting parts of their TV shows online, probably with ads that annoy users. But YouTube is more about mash-up, letting users do pretty much what their little hearts desire.

Analysis: Although I share the Motley Fool’s skepticism, I have to say that, in principle, I support the general idea of competition and letting the TV networks put out their own video website. They may be slow to the game, but they have a right to play. Let’s hope they give the fans (meaning users) something they really want.

The YouTube business model — is this Web 3.0 already?

December 5, 2006

News:  At the ITU Telecom conference, Cisco CEO John Chambers predicted that businesses will follow the YouTube model in facilitating and promoting user generated content.  Chambers suggested that we haven’t seen nothing yet in terms of the potential for businesses to foster user created content.   “That’s our children – wait ’til we get hold of it. We will change business models on this. In the future it will be about producing it yourself” as businesses develop technologies that serve as collaboration tools.  (More from CNET)

Analysis: This is a pretty bold statement from the CEO of Cisco.  I would love to see what Chambers says happen.  If more businesses develop technologies to promote user created content, that would be great for society.  Of course, the new technologies, whatever they are, must allow for sufficient breathing room for users to create their own stuff.  Otherwise, there’s a danger that a big business-driven environment for “user” created content will end up being nothing more than big business’s creation.

Will Google go up to $600 per share because of YouTube?

November 15, 2006

News: Is this irrational exuberance or what?  Credit Suisse (which had worked on the YouTube deal, but now can cover Google since the deal is done) has an analyst Heath Terry, who set the target price of Google at $600/share (it’s currently at $491.93/share.  Terry explains (see ZDNet):

The YouTube acquisition is certainly not without its own risks. The most significant issue facing Google following this acquisition is the potential for a deluge of litigation concerning copyrighted content on YouTube. A protracted legal battle in the courts could result in millions of dollars of legal expenses and settlement outside the courts is also a possibility. The worst case scenario can be seen in the fates of companies like Napster and MP3.com. Our analysis of the top 100 most viewed videos so far in November indicate that under 35% of these videos (by total views and number of videos) potentially contain contentious copyrighted material. This means that the majority of videos on the site are truly user-generated content. As a result, we believe the impact of Google/YouTube removing copyrighted content may be less than feared. However, it is unclear how much of YouTube’s traffic comes to site primarily for copyrighted content rather than user-generated videos.

Terry’s bet: The monetization of YouTube will outrun the copyright gnats. His price target for Google: $600.

Analysis:  Wow.  The stat on the percentage of user-created material that is the most popular (65% of the TOP 100 videos) is pretty amazing.  If true, it shows the huge potential for ordinary people to find viewers of their works on YouTube.  

The business of stupid videos: Is Stephen Colbert right about YouTube?

November 15, 2006

I will be giving a talk to law students at my school on Wednesday.  The title of my talk is noted above.  We will be discussing this video of Stephen Colbert about the YouTube “ripoff.”  (Warning:  the video contains footage of two acts of stupidity and some graphic violence involving a guy hitting a person on the head with a shovel.)   

If you have any opinions on this video or the following questions, I’d love to hear them:

1.  Why is YouTube so popular among users?  What’s the point of posting silly videos online?

2.  How should major copyright holders, like the movie and music industries, deal with people posting clips of their content without authorization on YouTube?  

3.  Is YouTube really worth $1.65 billion?

UPDATE:  In the “rip-off” clip, Stephen Colbert joked about having Colbert Report clips up on YouTube, even though Viacom, his parent company, asked some to be removed.  Now, ironically, Viacom or the Colbert Report asked that the same video clip in which Colbert makes fun of Viacom and others over the use of his clips to be removed from YouTube.   “Rip-off” is now available on Comedy Central’s site here.

The videos that put YouTube on the map

October 19, 2006

News:  Today, Slate’s Paul Boutin has a nice list of the buzz-making videos that put YouTube on the map.  The list is on NPR’s website, with convenient links to the YouTube clips.  Here are Boutin’s picks:

Jon Stewart on Crossfire
‘Lazy Sunday’ from ‘Saturday Night Live’
Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner
Judson Laipply’s Evolution of Dance
A Message from Chad and Steve

The online video revolution in Korea

October 18, 2006

News:  GigaOm has an excellent post today examining the advanced state of broadband and video file sharing in South Korea.  Google’s planning on investing $10 million in R&D in Korea.  Here’s the most impressive part:

“For years, Korean television viewers have been able to watch their favorite shows online. The shows are offered not by a third party like the Apple iTunes Store or Google Video, but by the TV companies themselves, who provide complete archives of their shows that can be downloaded or streamed, either for free or for pennies.

“In Korea, online video is not an experiment—it is a success. It is a daily reality for most Koreans, not just for the young crowd or the techie set. The entire society has lived the broadband lifestyle for a while now, and is more attuned to its potential.”

Analysis:  Putting free copyrighted shows online probably is heretical in the U.S., given the current practices of major copyright holders in the U.S.  While chatting with a friend, I once suggested that owners of really old copyrighted shows that are never played any more should put them online for free, or with some modest deal with a site like YouTube.  What Korean copyright holders are already doing with recently copyrighted shows is pretty amazing.

Business + Web 2.0: What Mark Cuban doesn’t get

October 16, 2006

News:  Over the weekend, a couple articles came out explaining favorably why the Google-YouTube deal makes sense, and why we’re unlikely to see YouTube suffer the same copyright demise as Napster.  Here are some of the highlights:

1.  The Sunday Times (UK), Google helps media giants see YouTube’s way

Some senior media executives argue that these are signs that lessons have been learnt since the Napster debacle. The free song-swapping website was crushed by legal action by the music industry, but this failed to stop enormous web piracy.

“If we had licensed Napster we could have saved ourselves billions and got a real head start in digital music,” one music executive said. “But as usual the lawyers had the loudest voices.”  If there is money to be made, media companies are happy to share content as long as they get their slice. “It is innovation over litigation,” said Michael Nash, senior vice-president for digital strategy at Warner.

2.  Michael Geist, Toronto Star, Why YouTube won’t be Napster redux

Lost amid discussion of YouTube’s staggering price tag was the fact that hours before confirming the sale, Google and YouTube signed a series of licensing agreements with some of their harshest critics. Companies such as Universal, who only weeks earlier had mused publicly about suing YouTube, agreed to the very revenue sharing arrangements that eluded Napster.

While some media companies, including Time Warner, speculated publicly late last week about possible lawsuits, it is worth examining why YouTube appears to be succeeding where Napster failed. At least three possibilities come to mind. * * * The best explanation may well be that seven years after Napster’s debut, the world views the value of Internet-based distribution through a much different lens.

In 1999, Internet distribution focused on the use of law and technology to control content and dictate terms of use. That control has proven notoriously elusive with consumer backlash against technological and legal controls and emergence of highly efficient user-based distribution models.

Furthermore, it is Internet advertising revenues — not Internet controls — that today hold the promise of billions of dollars in revenue. Indeed, the Internet economics of 2006 have shifted so dramatically that later this fall the recording industry is planning to launch SpiralFrog, an ad-supported music download service that offers free music downloads (albeit with restrictive technological limitations).

3.  David Carr, New York Times, Idiosyncratic and Personal, PC Edges TV

One of the panelists, Jeff Zucker, chief executive of NBC, was asked what he would do if he found out that YouTube had run a piece of copyrighted NBC material. “We will claim outrage, demand that it be taken down and then check back in a week to make sure it has been done,” he said. His sly-devil acquiescence is informed by YouTube’s ability to take a Saturday Night Live skit called “Lazy Sunday” last year and market it to more young people than have sampled S.N.L. in years. * * * Television, it seems, may have learned some of the hard lessons endured by the music industry and taken an attitude of cautious engagement with downloaders rather than randomly slapping them with lawsuits.

Analysis:  I’ve always thought winning the Napster litigation was a Pyrrhic victory for the music industry.  By closing the first and most popular music file sharing site, which boasted over 70 million users and a substantial lead time over competitors, the music industry very likely made it more difficult to stop infringement by scattering all those users to many different services and software platforms.  I’m glad to see now that one music executive has finally admitted as much. 

Granted, it’s a matter of speculation whether Napter and the music industry could have struck a deal to work together back in 1999.  But I submit as evidence the fact that Napster was later reborn, with the blessing of the music industry.  By then, though, Apple and iTunes had become the No.1 online commercial site for music.

Yahoo tried to buy YouTube

October 11, 2006

News:  In Yahoo Feels Breath on Neck, Saul Hansell discusses how Yahoo tried to buy YouTube:  “Yahoo itself tried to buy YouTube just a few weeks ago and got as close as negotiating price and terms, according to an executive briefed on the discussions. But the talks broke down, and Google swooped in and closed the deal quickly, just as it has in several recent partnership negotiations.”

Analysis:  Hansell also notes that “Google has $11 billion in cash and a market value of $131 billion, while Yahoo has $4 billion in cash and is worth $34 billion.”  Given these figures, the metaphor in the title of the article seems wrong.  It should be something like, Yahoo Feels Dust in Face.

Newsweek article on “The Battle over YouTube”

October 2, 2006

News:  The buzz over YouTube continues.  I’ve already chronicled the past week’s stories in Forbes, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and even Saturday Night Live.  This week’s Newsweek also contains a story, entitled “The Battle over YouTube.” 

Tech reporter Brad Stone asks:  “The video-sharing site is the hottest start-up since Google.  Is it worth a billion dollars, or is it just another company in need of a business model?”

Stone’s article is well worth a read.  He identifies the 2 major challenges for YouTube: (1) handling the copyright issue over unauthorized use of copyrighted content in a way that satisfies the media industries (or at least avoids crushing liability), and (2) developing a sustainable business plan amidst an ever competitive field of video sharing sites. 

Analysis:  I found the most revealing part of the article, the opening paragraph.  Stone reveals just how small the physical operation of YouTube is:

“Warner Music, the fourth largest music company in the world, has every reason to wage business and legal warfare against popular video-sharing site YouTube. The Internet upstart gives its 34 million users free access to songs and videos from the label’s entire stable of artists, including Madonna and Green Day. But instead of hostility, Warner digital-strategy exec Alex Zubillaga says he felt something like sympathy during a recent dealmaking visit to the firm’s Silicon Valley headquarters. YouTube’s 60 employees—who share a grand total of 10 landline phones—are so crammed into small offices over a pizzeria in downtown San Mateo that Zubillaga says, ‘I almost felt bad for them.'”

Google, of course, started in a garage. But YouTube over a pizzeria?  That’s not what I imagined.  Anyways, there’s little wonder why YouTube is hiring.

FOX News allows clips of Bill Clinton interview on YouTube

September 27, 2006

Apparently, FOX News realized that its demand to YouTube to remove Chris Wallace’s heated interview with Bill Clinton from YouTube’s site made no sense at all.  Webloggin reports that his and other removed clips of the Clinton interview were restored on YouTube.

As I reported yesterday here, I think it only helps FOX News to have this much-talked-about video surfacing all over the Internet, even on sites that haven’t asked for permission.  There’s no better way to create buzz for the FOX News division.  And there’s nothing in the Copyright Act that says the copyright owner can’t impliedly consent to such uses.

Maybe MySpace did not beat YouTube, after all

September 27, 2006

News:  Several commentators have posited explanations for why MySpace may have come out of head in a survey of the number of streamed videos from its site, even over YouTube.  I discussed the comScore survey here. 

Loren Baker of Search Engine Journal points out: (1) MySpace automatically streams video upon entry to a user’s page, meaning that if a friend visits your MySpace page several times a day, the videos will stream each time.  (2) a recent study of number of hits placed YouTube first, with 45.45%, and MySpace videos second, with 22.99%

Perhaps more importantly, Baker concludes:  “Regardless, Google, Yahoo and MSN still trail behind newcomers MySpace and YouTube in one or more studies, which should have the major media outlets and search engines looking for ways to plan to do battle with these new media outlets.”

Analysis:  Baker’s explanation of the comScore survey seems fairly persuasive.  To the extent MySpace allows automatic streaming without the need for the user to click on a video, that would raise the possibility of an inflated number of streamed videos.   

MySpace tops YouTube in July

September 26, 2006

News:  comScore reportedly will issue a report today for the most popular video streaming sites in July.  The popular social networking site MySpace has come out on top, in terms of the number of streams initiated, unique streamers, and streams per streamers.  Marketwatch reports the figures as follows:

Streams initiated     Unique streamers    Streams per
Total Internet——7,182—–106,534————— 67.4
Yahoo sites———–812——37,934—————-21.4
Time Warner———258——25,675—————-10.1
ROO Group———–186——-5,841—————–31.9
Microsoft sites——-156——-16,227—————-9.6
Viacom Digital——–322——-14,077—————22.9
Google sites———–60———7,520—————-7.9
Ebaumsworld———67———-7,143————— 9.4
MLB———————–30——— 6,442—————- 4.6

Analysis:  I’m surprised by both MySpace coming in No. 1 and YouTube coming in No. 3.  Time to pay attention to MySpace more.  Apparently, it’s a place for more than just expanding your social network.

Will Internet overtake TV?

September 25, 2006

No matter how you slice it, the conventional television set is pretty sedentary.  Viewers sit in front of it, and can basically veg out.  The Internet is potentially different.  It allows users to create and/or comment on content.  And it gives users greater freedom to pick and choose the content they want to watch whenever and however many times they want. 

It’s still hard to imagine, however, the day when the Internet overtakes the TV as primary conduit of entertainment communication, the outlet that millions of Americans turn to first.  But that may just be starting to happen according to the following articles:

1.  Diane Mermigas, Democratic Party, Hollywood Reporter.

“Already clear in its nascent, exploding stage is that the Web video and text that the average Joe creates for consumption (and often endless replay) by an audience of one or millions — anytime, anywhere — will have an extraordinary effect on commercial media and entertainment worldwide, the extent of which cannot yet be comprehended. But many bright minds are trying to figure it out.”

2.  Sarah Lacey, Let the Web Entertain You, BusinessWeek.

“[T]he Web has become a hub of entertainment is no shocker, of course. What’s been more of a surprise is just how quickly and extensively the Internet is replacing traditional content over consumer electronics devices like TVs and PCs outfitted with media-compatible software and hardware. Computer makers like Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and software giants like Microsoft (MSFT) long hoped they’d play a bigger role with so-called media center PCs.”

Will copyright change YouTube, or will YouTube change copyright?

September 25, 2006

News:  Steve Johnson of the Chicago Tribune has an excellent article analyzing some of the potential copyright problems that YouTube might face if copyright holders attempted to enforce their copyrights on content being uploaded onto YouTube.  For now, most copyright holders (such as the music and movie industries) haven’t, although this could change.  As Johnson explains:

“NBC Universal digital content chief Jeff Gaspin said it doesn’t bother him that, for instance, almost every moment of the romantic comedy’s central relationship, between office-mates Jim and Pam, is now up on YouTube, some 15 videos of eight or so minutes apiece amounting, in total, to almost a mini-version of the Season 2 Two DVD set.

“If the Internet helps create buzz for us, great,” Gaspin said, reasoning that the Jim and Pam relationship could join TV classics like such as Sam and Diane (“Cheers”) and Ross and Rachel (“Friends”), but first viewers have to find out about it.

“When you take into account NBC’s moderate shift in stance, and, for instance, Comedy Central’s wink-and-a-nod at the proliferation of “Daily Show” and “Colbert Report” clips that users upload, you understand that many copyright holders seem to be deciding that the promotional value of YouTube appearances is more valuable than any revenue that might be gained by forcing users to the holders’ own Web sites.

“But others aren’t so sanguine. Last week, Doug Morris, CEO of the giant Universal Music Group, was speaking of YouTube and the less-copyright-dependent MySpace when he said, “These new businesses are copyright infringers and owe us tens of millions of dollars.”

Analysis:  Copyright is the 64 thousand — or million — dollar question for YouTube.  Part of its current success rests on copyright holders taking at least a “wait and see” attitude before running pell mell to sue YouTube for alleged copyright infringement.  So far, this “wait and see” attitude seems prudent for businesses, as YouTube generates a lot of free advertising for copyrighted material.  YouTube has the millions of eyeballs that copyright holders want. 

Microsoft launches MSN Soapbox to compete with YouTube

September 19, 2006

News:  Microsoft launched its beta version of its video sharing software called Soapbox.  It’s not completely open to the public, though: you have to sign up to receive a special invite for a private test.  The full public launch apparently may be months away.

Analysis:  Just another sign how hot the video file sharing industry is right now.  Microsoft seems a little late to the game, again having to play catch-up.  Bill Gates is a genius, but when’s no longer in charge of the day-to-day operations, things seem different for Microsoft.