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The Constantly Increasing Pressure to Host on YouTube

April 15th, 2008 by Dean Jansen

Video creators often choose to go wherever the largest audience is, and right now a lot of the audience is at YouTube, whose dominance has been steadily growing for a long time.

According to Comscore, YouTube serves a mammoth 34% of all internet videos. 34% may not sound too impressive, until you compare it to their closest competitor, Myspace, who serves a paltry 6% of all internet video. One effect of this massive market share is that hardware manufacturers and 3rd parties are making deals with YouTube, but aren’t interested in supporting other platforms. Another is that viewers go directly to YouTube to conduct searches and watch videos.

This means that independent creators like Glenn Wolsey are forced to move their programs onto YouTube, lest they be left without an audience. Although this post is rather old, it clearly illustrates my point:

Putting it in perspective, if you were to publish a video to the web, would you prefer to upload it to YouTube where you have millions of potential viewers from all over the world, via computers, the Apple TV, the iPod touch, and the iPhone within minutes uploading it, or alternatively, would you prefer to upload it to a smaller video site to retain a somewhat ‘better’ community feeling?

Glenn is just one of so many creators who has been forced to make this difficult decision: retain control over the presentation and format of the video, or reach the largest viewing audience in the world.

I think there’s a growing awareness of what “Open Video” means; however, there are still a lot of folks that assume the internet is universally open, democratic, and completely decentralized. While in many cases the internet is all of these things, with video it’s clearly not the case — the risk of a monopoly is clear and present.

Here at PCF we’re going to be co-organizing a campaign to help frame these important issues and arm people with information and tools to help mitigate the monopolistic effects of YouTube. We’ll be working to spread the meme of truly open and democratic web video, helping everyone to see where we’re at and to push for something much better.

7 Responses to “The Constantly Increasing Pressure to Host on YouTube”

  1. Thomas Jeon says:

    Maybe someone wants to publish their video as HD format. YouTube can’t support a long and big video file yet. So, other video player can attack such categories. MIRO can support HD format?

  2. Sam Hasler says:

    Are there such things as “monopolistic effects”? There are monopolistic practices, but that refers to unfairly using a monopoly in one market to enter another. Remember monopolies aren’t intrinsically illegal or bad, and complaining “just because” a company or organisation has a monopoly smacks of sour grapes.

    Perhaps a better phrase would have been “network effect”, that is after all what you’re talking about. It’s very hard to avoid network effects, if Miro were to displace YouTube as the tool most people used to find video wouldn’t it then become the de-facto gatekeeper to the audience. Albeit perhaps a nicer one and more democratic, but by your terms wouldn’t it then be a new monopoly?

    So instead of one gatekeeper to the audience perhaps what we need are free and open protocols for searching and subscribing to video content, so that we can have a multitude of ways to distribute, search for and watch video content (In similar way to how OpenID is going to transform the online identity echosystem).

    I’d like to see PCF working with the microformats community on efforts such as this:
    http://microformats.org/wiki/video-metadata-model
    and once there is a standard for a Video Metadata Model I think it should be PCF leading a campaign to get every website on the net that has video content to start using it, similar to Mozilla’s “Don’t hurt the web” campaign: http://developer.mozilla.org/en/docs/Promote_MDC

  3. Dean Jansen says:

    Thomas,

    Yes Miro supports HD very well. blip.tv or Internet Archive (archive.org) are two (of many) ways to host HD video.

    Sam,

    Perhaps “network effect” would have been a more appropriate term for that particular point, but I would still argue that a YouTube monopoly is/would be bad. Why would we want one organization to have such an unprecedented influence on the media that we have access to (as far as the web is concerned)? Furthermore, I’m not complaining “just because,” but rather see this as raising an issue that isn’t well represented.

    First off, Miro will never displace YouTube, and that has never been our intention (not to mention, Miro is a client and relies on services like YouTube). It would be more accurate to say that we’re working to guide YouTube in a more open direction.

    At this point, they basically have very little incentive to be open and and a few financial reasons to be more closed. Of course Miro doesn’t have the market share (yet) to affect a giant like YouTube, but think back to when Mozilla was nothing but a grain of sand compared to Microsoft. Fast forward to today, and you have a radically different web, because of the open standards built into Firefox and their huge userbase.

    Second, Miro doesn’t have much of a gate to keep. We’re an open source client application that works best in situations where video hosts are using web standards (RSS) for publishing. We do have the Miro Guide, but alternative guides can easily be added (a web page = a guide), and we’re preparing to open the source code for the guide too. Additionally, as we receive demand (and resources to implement this stuff), we’ll open up the Miro Guide in other ways too (openID, openSocial, etc). In the end, I think it’s difficult to compare a non-profit, whose mission is to make media more open, to a gigantic commercial web service that has financial incentives to protect their market share.

    You say, “So instead of one gatekeeper to the audience perhaps what we need are free and open protocols for searching and subscribing to video content.” And this is exactly what we’re doing.

    Thanks joining in the discussion!

  4. Sam Hasler says:

    Perhaps monoculture is a better word? (as in, the windows monoculture)

    The network effect may be the mechanism that drives everyone to YouTube but the result is a monoculture.

    I just picked up on the word “co-organizing”, who else is involved?

  5. [...] Miro – Internet TV Blog » Blog Archive » The Constantly Increasing Pressure to Host on YouTube (tags: hl) [...]

  6. Dean Jansen says:

    Sam,

    We’re not quite set to go public with our plans yet, but we’ll post them here as soon as we are.

    And yes, monoculture is another word that aptly describes the result of such a dominant player in the space. Monopoly may not be the perfect term to describe the direction internet video is headed, but I will continue to use it as a way to convey my point. It’s a word that a lot of people know, and the definition on Wikipedia is right in line with what I’m arguing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly

  7. High Heels says:

    Maybe someone wants to publish their video as HD format. YouTube can't support a long and big video file yet. So, other video player can attack such categories. MIRO can support HD format?

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