USA Today article on

February 12, 2009

Nice article about and its hosting of 38,000 user-generated shows, with a 50-50 ad revenue model split with the creator.

2008: The End of the VCR?

December 22, 2008

News: LA Times has this excellent article discussing the end of manufacturing of the VHS tape. Soon, VHS tapes used on VCRs will suffer the same fate as Polaroid film: obsolescence.

: I have a confession to make. I own a VCR and still occasionally use it–the last time to tape Obama’s convention speech, followed by Palin’s convention speech. I also have a DVD player, but it broke after I used it once and I never got around to buying another one. And it may be shocking to some who know me as a techie, I don’t have a DVR. Don’t get me wrong, I think DVRs are cool. But, to be honest, there’s not much on TV I ever find worth time shifting for later viewing. If I miss it, no loss.

But I will miss the VCR, just as I already miss Polaroid cameras and film (I still have my cache in the refrigerator). The VCR gave birth to one of the most important copyright cases of the 20th century, Universal City Studios v. Sony, in which the Supreme Court recognized the Sony safe harbor. Under the Sony safe harbor, tech developers are protected from copyright lawsuits for developing technologies that are capable of substantial noninfringing uses (even if they have infringing uses, too). Even more than its legal contribution, I find something beautiful and simple in the analog, retro features of the VCR. It was revolutionary in its day, and lasted for over 2 decades. Not true for the DVD, which some say will already become obsolete to BluRay soon.

It’s hard to say why people become attached to some (but not all) “retro” technologies. But they do. Many people still swear by vinyl albums and turntables! (Not me.) Many people think Polaroid photos are works of art. (Me.) Although the VCR is not as glamorous as vinyl or Polaroids, it has a special place in my book.

Is YouTube’s business toast?

May 30, 2008

News:  Tech Crunch’s Erick Schonfeld has the best analysis I’ve seen about YouTube’s market share and business model.  Google CEO Eric Schmidt openly concedes that it has faced difficulties in converting YouTube into a money-making venture in the same way Google has.  Schonfeld estimates or speculates that YouTube’s advertising revenues (in the neighborhood of $200 million) represent only 15% of the online video market, even though YouTube commands 37% of all videos watched online.

YouTube dominates video online even more

February 11, 2008

News: comScore reports that December 2007 had the greatest number of videos watched by US Internet users (10 billion) –attributable to the writers’ strike and the general lack of interesting TV programs to watch. 32.6% of that total was watched on YouTube. YouTube also had the most unique visitors, 79 million, followed by FOX sites at 43 million.

Is YouTube a bust for Google on advertising?

February 6, 2008

News: The Wall Street Journal had an excellent article today about how “Social Sites Don’t Deliver Big Ad Gains.” Unfortunately, the entire article is not freely available online. It had a couple paragraphs specifically about YouTube that suggested it was having trouble luring big corporations to advertise on YouTube. The problem is that some corporations may be skittish in advertising alongside videos that are not politically correct or free of controversy. Even CEO of Google Eric Schmidt admitted that things were going slower than expected with the monetization of ads on YouTube.

Analysis: Uh-oh.

YouTube continues to dominate

January 18, 2008

News: comScore just issued this press release about the growth of online video watching. The numbers are getting bigger and bigger. For YouTube, 74.5 million people viewed 2.9 billion videos on (39 videos per viewer)” in November.

RESTON, VA, January 17, 2008 – comScore (NASDAQ: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, today released its comScore Video Metrix report for November 2007, indicating that more than 75 percent of U.S. Internet users watched a video online (including both streaming video and progressive downloads), averaging 3.25 hours of video per person during the month. Google Sites, which includes, increased its video market share by more than two percentage points to 31.3 percent from October to November.

Google Expands Lead in Online Video Market Share

Americans viewed nearly 9.5 billion online videos in November, with Google Sites once again ranking as the top U.S. video property with 3 billion videos viewed (31.3 percent share of all videos viewed), 2.9 billion of which occurred at (30.6 percent). Fox Interactive Media ranked second with 419 million videos viewed (4.4 percent), followed by Yahoo! Sites with 328 million (3.5 percent) and Viacom Digital with 304 million (2.6 percent).

Top U.S. Online Video Properties* by Videos Viewed

November 2007

Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations

Source: comScore Video Metrix


Videos Viewed


Share (%) of


Total Internet



Google Sites



Fox Interactive Media



Yahoo! Sites



Viacom Digital



Time Warner Network



Microsoft Sites



Disney Online











*Rankings based on video content sites; excludes video server networks. Online video includes both streaming and progressive download video.

In total, 138 million Americans – approximately three in four U.S Internet users – viewed online video in November. Google Sites also captured the largest online video audience with 76.2 million unique viewers, followed by Fox Interactive Media with 46.3 million and Yahoo! Sites with 37.3 million.

Top U.S. Online Video Properties* by Unique Video Viewers

November 2007

Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations

Source: comScore Video Metrix


Unique Viewers (000)

Percent of all U.S. Internet Users

Total Internet



Google Sites



Fox Interactive Media



Yahoo! Sites



Time Warner Network



Microsoft Sites



Viacom Digital



Disney Online








CBS Corporation



*Rankings based on video content sites; excludes video server networks. Online video includes both streaming and progressive download video.

Other notable findings from November 2007 include:

  • 74.5 million people viewed 2.9 billion videos on (39 videos per viewer).
  • 43.2 million people viewed 389 million videos on (9 videos per viewer).
  • Online viewers watched an average of 3.25 hours (195 minutes) of online video during the month, representing a 29-percent gain from the 2.52 hours (151 minutes) watched in January 2007.
  • The average online video duration was 2.8 minutes.
  • The average online video viewer consumed 69 videos.

Steve Jobs announces MacBook Air + iTunes movie rentals at MacWorld

January 16, 2008

News: MacWorld is the annual pilgrimage for all the obsessed Mac devotees in the world. Steve Jobs’ keynote presentation is, of course, the main event. This year, Jobs announced a new super-thin laptop called the MacBook Air, as well as some tinkering with the disappointing AppleTV. Tech Crunch has the play-by-play.

As techdirt reports, another significant announcement was Apple’s entry into video rental market via iTunes. You can now rent movies through iTunes. Techdirt, though, questions Apple’s per-video rental fees, instead of the NetFlix “all you can eat” subscription plays. Techdirt also questions the use of DRM on the iTunes movies, something that has backfired in the music world — in part because Steve Jobs criticized it.

The new MacBook Air is priced at $1,799, which Tech Crunch says is too expensive.

FOX on demand (beta) is fantastic

January 15, 2008

Review: I’ve just looked at FOX’s new “on demand” website. Go here.  I really wonder how this beta FOX site will exist alongside FOX’s joint video project with NBC,   That part is not yet clear. To access FOX’s new beta site, you may have to download a plug-in to start watching. But once you do, it’s well worth it. The menu starts out with this cool spin wheel, like on the Price is Right.


And then once you watch a show, the picture is in high def (at least for The Sarah Connor Chronicles). It’s breathtaking.



I only hope that FOX puts American Idol on the Internet.

20% increase in viewers to YouTube + video sites after TV writers’ strike

January 12, 2008

News:  Nielson Online reports that YouTube and other video sharing sites have seen a spike of 20% in their viewers since the TV writers’ strike has started.  The article speculates whether the spike can be attributed to the writers’ strike or not, as opposed to a more general growth in broadband Internet use.  (More)

Online videos become popular at work during lunch

January 5, 2008

News:  NYT has a fascinating article today about a growing phenomenon:  more people are sitting at their computers for lunch to watch online videos.  TV stations and media providers have recognized the midday spike and are launching online content to meet the lunch-time demand.  The clips tend to be shorter, as viewers like it.

Harris poll: 65% U.S. adults watched YouTube in 2007

December 20, 2007

News: A survey of 2,455 U.S. adults found that 65% watched a YouTube video at least one time in 2007, while 42% said they watched YouTube frequently. (More)  Here’s a nice chart of YouTube’s amazing growth in 2007.

But, in another part, the survey found: “Online viewers said they would watch more TV episodes and full-length movies if more were available. There was less interest in viewing more amateur or user-generated videos, news and sports, according to the survey.”

Analysis: It will be difficult for any competitor to dislodge YouTube from the top of the video market. The user base is so large, which makes the network (effects) so strong an attraction for people. I’ve been studying reviews of competitor video sites — many of which offer better video quality than YouTube — but I’m not sure any of the others have much of a chance against YouTube/Google. The survey’s finding about a preference for professional content over user-generated stuff (althouth the figures are not given) does provide some hope for Hula and others that are trying to market “premium” content.

The growth of online videos: billions watched

December 12, 2007

News: Wall St. Journal had an interesting article yesterday analyzing why the Apple TV and other devices that allow people to watch online videos on their TVs haven’t really sold well.

 Two interesting facts noted in the article:

1.  US users watched 9.13 billion videos online in August, up 26% from 7.25 billion in January.

2.  In 2006, 80% of people surveyed said that would not pay any price for a device that would allow them to watch Internet videos on their TV.

Analysis:  My guess is that people are fine watching videos on their computer monitors (the quality of which are pretty good and, in any event, YouTube’s video quality is not that great, to begin with).

USA Today article on Internet videos and Quarterlife: Is this the end of TV?

November 13, 2007

News:  USA Today has an article discussing the development of “webisodes,” short videos online that are comparable to TV shows.  Lonelygirl15, for instance, turned out to be the most famous, launching on YouTube last year, but her main character has since died off.

One of the new series online is Quarterlife, produced by TV directors Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick.  You can find the show on MySpace.  A related USA Today article discusses not only Quarterlife, but also Chad Vader (popular on YouTube) and Roommates (popular on MySpaceTV).

Analysis:  The dramatic series is difficult to do in 4 minute or less, but I think Lonelygirl15 proved that it can be done effectively on the Internet.  As more Hollywood directors (along with amateurs) play around with short videos, I’m sure we will see another Internet sensation like Lonelygirl 15.  You really need to start out with a captivating actor, though.  And to sustain the sensation, a good story — something that I’m not sure that Lonelygirl15 could deliver.

Will Hulu kill YouTube?

October 30, 2007

News: NBC Universal and Fox have teamed up to develop a video site called “Hulu” that will deliver “premium” content of their own TV shows, like The Office and Prison Break. Users can’t upload anything, sorry. Wired gives the beta version of Hulu a favorable review. (I’ve signed up for the beta, but am still waiting on my invite.)

Analysis: So will Hulu be the “YouTube killer” it was touted by some to be? I think Wired has the right answer: basically, no. (“[W]ith the lack of user-generated content, it falls short of the end-all be-all site for online video. Viewers are still going to go to YouTube and still click their ads — but in terms of piracy a minor rebellion may have been quelled.”) But here’s what Hulu will help to kill: the DVR industry and the primacy of network television. As I’ve been saying all along, this is the beginning of the end of television as we know it.

NBC Universal terminates YouTube channel

October 23, 2007

News:  NBC Universal pulled the plug on its YouTube channel, without explanation.  The NBC channel on YouTube had some of the most popular videos on YouTube, including the megahit with Justin Timberlake and a strategically placed box.  The move is likely in anticipation of the launching of NBC’s joint video site with News Corp “Hulu,” which is now in beta.  (More)

The end of television: Daily Show goes Internet

October 18, 2007

News:  Jon Stewart’s Daily Show has uploaded all of its shows into short video clips on its website (with ads).  (More

Analysis:  This is the beginning of the end of television as we know it.  All shows will eventually migrate to the Internet.  You won’t need your DVR.   And perhaps one day, in the next generation, the Internet will be the primary destination for entertainment over TV. 

Tech Crunch reviews the video industry: Is better than YouTube?

October 11, 2007

News:  The Tech Crunch blog has this excellent review of the key players in the online video industry, with a nice chart and thumb nails of the video players of each of the competitors (which if you click on will take you to the video).

Here’s one of the key findings:  “Out of all these alternative services, stands out as the most professional video sharing solution. The website and player are cleanly designed, they accept perhaps the widest range of file formats, they will automatically syndicate your videos to many other websites, and you can choose to place midroll, postroll, adjacent, and overlay advertisements in your uploads. Additionally, you can track your shows’ statistics quite closely and allow users to download your videos. I could go on and on about’s useful features. The only major bummer with is that you can’t seek ahead to points in a video using their Flash player.”

Google to YouTube-ify video ads for other sites

October 9, 2007

News: Google will announce today an ad program using videos of select YouTube partners on other sites through Google’s existing AdSense program by deploying “video units.” The videos will contain the InVideo ads that scroll on the bottom of the screen for a few seconds. According to the AP, “Google will share the ad revenue generated by the YouTube videos with the content provider and the Web site that shows the clips.” (more) TechCrunch blog has a post. Google has this video.

Analysis: It’s been 1 year since Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion. While YouTube drives a lot of traffic to its site, YouTube hasn’t made much revenue. There’s a lot riding on this ad program and deployment of InVideo ads on YouTube itself. I’m still waiting for a full deployment of the YouTube ads to give my sense on how good it will be.

NBC plans on offering shows free online for 1 week

September 20, 2007

News: NBC made a major announcement today: starting in November, it will offer NBC shows for free downloading online for a 1 week period after airing on TV. The free videos will have commercials. Viewers can pay extra for a commercial-free version. “With the creation of this new service, we are acknowledging that now, more than ever, viewers want to be in control of how, when and where they consumer their favorite entertainment,” said Vivi Zigler, executive vice president of NBC Digital Entertainment. (More)

Analysis: Tech Crunch blog wonders whether NBC’s decision will hurt its joint effort to launch the Hulu site with News Corp, the so-called “YouTube killer.” Regardless, NBC’s decision is of huge significance. I expect CBS and ABC to follow suit. This may be the beginning of TV’s migration to the Internet.

Comscore stats on videos and YouTube

September 13, 2007

News:  According to the NYT, Comscore has some interesting stats on video viewing online.

1.  75% of Internet in the US now watch an average of 3 hours of video online per month

2.  The average viewing of a video is 2.7 minutes

3.  2.5 billion videos were viewed on Google sites in July, of which 2.4 billion came from YouTube

Is DailyMotion the French YouTube?

September 6, 2007

News:  The French-based DailyMotion just received $34 million in additional funding.  Some tout it as the “French answer to YouTube.”  So far, DailyMotion has avoided being sued for copyright infringement that have saddled other sites.  We’ll see how long that lasts.  (More)

Hello to Hulu, the YouTube killer from NBC + FOX

August 30, 2007

News: NBC and Fox have joined together in an online video project that has been nicknamed “the YouTube killer,” reflecting at least the intentions of its creators. Yesterday, the project announced its name — “Hulu” — on its website (still in beta). Jason Kilar, the CEO, even writes to explain the name: “Why Hulu? Objectively, Hulu is short, easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and rhymes with itself. Subjectively, Hulu strikes us as an inherently fun name, one that captures the spirit of the service we’re building. Our hope is that Hulu will embody our (admittedly ambitious) never-ending mission, which is to help you find and enjoy the world’s premier content when, where and how you want it.”

Michael Arrington of Tech Crunch humorously points out that “hulu” means “butt” in two languages and “cease and desist” in Swahili. Salon points out that all names rhyme with themselves, so that’s no reason to pick a name.


Analysis: Hulu will focus on providing “premium” or “quality” video content from TV shows. It won’t include amateur, user-generated videos (as I understand it), so it’s hoping that viewers will prefer “premium” content over the amateur stuff on YouTube. Whether that strategy will be enough to compete with YouTube’s huge lead in user base, only time will tell. I think it will be an interesting battle to watch. I do like the look of the Hulu website so far, so at least they’ve hired some decent design people.

As for the name “Hulu,” I think if you have to explain it, it ain’t that good.

South Park creators score $75 million deal w/ Viacom

August 28, 2007

News:  South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker just signed a $75 milllion extension with Viacom.  Part of the deal gives the pair 50% of revenues generated on a new South Park website (which will have videos).  Viacom is, of course, embroiled in a lawsuit with YouTube over the posting of unauthorized clips from South Park and other Viacom shows.  (More)

Analysis:  The sharing of Internet revenues is an interesting development.  Right now, the amount of revenue probably will be small (especially compared to television).  That may change one day, perhaps sooner than we expect.

How YouTube will make billions

August 22, 2007

News:  Google officially announced the deployment of its new internal pop-up ads within YouTube videos.  According to one report, “it is charging $20 per 1,000 times the banner ad is presented.”  Furthermore, “the ads will be paired with videos supplied by YouTube‘s professional partners, such as Warner Music Group, as well as a select number of user-generated videos. Those clips were produced by about 70 amateur filmmakers who were chosen by YouTube and who will share the advertising revenue.”

Also, the NYT reports:  “With 51 million users in June, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, YouTube now attracts an audience that is larger than the combined audiences of its three nearest competitors, MySpace, AOL and Yahoo. Its adoption of overlay ads for online video could turn the format into an industry standard, advertising executives said. The video ad market, which is expected to nearly double from last year to $775 million, has been projected to grow to $4.3 billion by 2011, according to eMarketer, a research firm. ”

Analysis:  Not to toot my own horn, but I reported on this development on YouTube back on July 3rd and July 26th.  The mainstream media are close to two months behind.

The state of the streaming video market

August 7, 2007

News: NYT has an excellent article discussing the growth of streaming video sites. Although you might not realize it, YouTube is a downloading video site (with the video progressively downloaded onto your computer). Streaming video, by contrast, leaves no file on your computer. Here’s a flavor:

“However, the potential of new streaming video services — fast, full screen and in sharp resolution — is unleashing a torrent of movies and television shows, much of it aimed at narrowly defined audiences that can’t find niche programming even on cable systems with 500 or more channels.

“The Independent Film Channel is streaming 22 short films called ‘Trapped in the Closet’ by the R&B recording artist R. Kelly. The Jewish Television Network, a nonprofit television production and distribution company, is streaming music videos by Jewish performers, cooking shows and Israeli news programs. * * *

“ReelTime, based in Seattle, digitally distributes thousands of movies and television shows to customers who either rent titles for 99 cents each or subscribe to the service for $4.99 a month to $19.99 for six months.”

Analysis: Stream me up, Scotty.

Lonelygirl15 defects to MySpace for season finale

August 3, 2007

News: Today is the season finale for the hit Internet show “Lonelygirl15.” It started out on YouTube, by MySpaceTV scored a big coup in getting exclusive rights to air the season finale today. The “lonelygirl15” creators are running 12 minisodes today, one per hour starting now. The first video is up on MySpaceTV already.

You can see the rest of the finale as they are posted here.


Analysis: Score a victory for MySpaceTV. Rupert Murdoch’s folks must have given the lonelygirl15 crew a sweet deal. I’m getting more impressed with MySpaceTV, a serious competitor to YouTube. The lonelygirl crew usually post their videos on several sites, so I will be interested to see if these videos eventually go on YouTube. If not, a huge loss for YouTube.

We’re living in the video world

July 26, 2007

News:  Pew Internet just released its report about video use on the Internet.  The results are eye-popping.

76% of Internet users between 18-29 watch online videos, and 57% of all adult Internet users.

49% of users between 18-29 watch videos on YouTube (compared to 15% for MySpace).

The most surprising stat to me:  62% of adult Internet users say they prefer “professional” videos over “amateur” ones; 19% prefer amateur; and 11% enjoy both equally.  For young adult men, the numbers are much more evenly distributed (which may explain why I’m surprised!). 

Another interesting stat:  57% of people polled watched videos online with others and shared links of videos with others.  73% of 18-29 year olds have watched with others and 66% have shared links with others.  The linking phenomenon helps explain how videos go viral.