Disclaimer: The Chatroulette site below can be EXTREMELY NSFW so I purposely didn’t link to the site until the end. I strongly suggest people read what the site is about before randomly visiting unprepared.Even after reading about it and going in aware of the content, I was still quite shocked at what I came across at times…and I’m not easily shocked…
I had heard about Chatroulette a few weeks ago but never had a chance to check it out until this weekend. And I don’t think I’ll ever forget the experience. I had thought that Ustream and Justin.tv played loose and fast with online video and webcam ‘community rules’ but nothing quite tops Chatroulette’s unfiltered and uncensored chaos. So, if you’re into the randomness of personal webcam videos from people around the globe, then you’ll probably enjoy the surreal experience that is Chatroulette.
In brief, Chatroulette randomly connects people’s webcams from all over the world. So it’s kind of like a modernized version of speed-dating/meetings with integrated chat. As you connect to another person, either they (or you) can click next to be randomly connected to someone else. And that’s where things can tend to veer into something out of a Tarantino film (think Pulp Fiction.) The site also says it’s screening obscene and pornographic content but there’s quite a bit on there…almost 1 out of every 10 random cams by my count.
Sometimes wacky and more often disturbing , Chatroulette’s appeal comes from the quick connection via video to anybody worldwide. My 1st experience with Chatroulette went something like this:
Connect to someone from Korea. Exchange ‘Hi’s” then moved on…
Connect to somebody who appeared to be from the Middle East…that person clicked ‘next’ before I could type anything…
Connect to somebody holding a Kermit the Frog puppet with Jergen’s Lotion. You can figure out the rest. A quick “NEXT’ on my part…
Connect to somebody dressed in a Cat outfit. Too weird for me…NEXT!
(Image courtesy of Buzzfeed as I was too shocked at the time to take a screengrab. I guess I’m also not the only one that’s come across this ‘cat person’ who I’m assuming is Chatroulette’s first “celebrity”. If you want to see some more images of Chatroulette, you can visit Buzzfeed which has some of the better ones – though some are slightly NSFW.)
Webcam usage is growing with Gen X and Gen Y so it’s only a matter of time until webcam chatting or videoconferencing becomes the defacto method of communication for these generations – I’d argue it’s already here. Also, from a technical perspective, this site is very well done as everything functions in a Flash interface so no need for any plug-ins or software downloads (Yay!) The webcam feeds switch out almost instantaneously with little to no loadtimes in between. Even more amazing considering it was created by a teen from Russia (see below..)
Now with all that said, Chatroulette is a great experiment and idea with worldwide social connections via webcam. I found it oddly appealing that every click of the NEXT button could lead me to someone from any corner of the globe. However, the site does need to put better safeguards in place to deliver a cleaner experience. The majority of the sites users seem to be college aged kids (18-24) but with no age screening and quite a bit of objectionable content, control measures need to be put in place sooner rather than later.
For more on Chatroulette there’s a good overview of the site from Fast Company, an interview with the 17 year old creator in the NY Times and a very detailed article on a writer’s experience with Chatroulette from NYMag.
If you are brave enough to jump right into Chatroulette let me know what you think in the comments below or on Twitter @Kobrakai. Keep in mind again that this site can be EXTREMELY NSFW so you have been warned…
It turns out I’m not the only one to come across Kermit the Frog either on Chatroulette as this image is making the rounds now…
I’ve been pretty critical of YouTube in the past in regards to YouTube needing to embrace live video or let Ustream, Justin.TV, and other Livestreaming sites become the new video communities on the web. Well I’m keeping my mouth shut for awhile because YouTube and U2 have just put on the most impressive display of Livestreaming yet. Streaming live from the Rose Bowl, U2′s concert was impressive from both an audio and visual standpoint. The live stream was pretty stable throughout the event and the audio was on par with what you would expect from watching a live concert on the web. It will be interesting to see the traffic numbers released from YouTube because on my end there was little to no hiccups with the stream itself. (UPDATE: 10 Million streams!!!!)
In terms of interactivity though, outside a real-time Twitter page embedded on the U2′s YouTube Home Page, there wasn’t much. There were multiple cameras views throughout the live video event, so I can understand given the anticipated traffic for the event that there wouldn’t be any user control of different live video feeds, but no other interactivity? I also noticed a lack on advertising anywhere on the page or video, so also surprised that there wasn’t any type of sponsor or other branded interactive feature.
Outside of that, this was an impressive outing from YouTube and U2. No, actually this was was the best Livestream large scale event I’ve seen yet. From the Twitter stream itself, you could see that this was indeed a live worldwide event happening in real-time bringing U2 fans together for an experience. This was the next best thing to actually being at the concert and one could argue given the multiple camera angles, visual/audio quality and integration of worldwide fans that it was something a little more special…
Biologists define symbiosis as the relationship between two creatures who rely upon each other. The relationship is called mutualistic if both creatures benefit; if only one benefits, the relationship is called parasitic.
YouTube has benefited from having Hulu’s premium content on their network. Some of Hulu’s content like Family Guy, has quite a presence on YouTube with a few Family Guy clips exceeding 5 million views (at a minimum). Add in Simpson’s episodes, Saturday Night Live clips, and other NBC/Fox related content, and it’s apparent that Hulu is a vital source of premium content to YouTube. YouTube itself also seems to be getting very dependent on premium content as the other Top 10 most viewed channels on YouTube include UniversalMusicGroup (#1), SonyBMG (#2), and CBS (#8). All this is a result of YouTube failing to grow revenue off of their UGC (User-Generated Content) videos and shifting gears to feature more premium content on the site that they hope to monetize.
So this is a classic Win-Win right? Well no. It definitely seems that Hulu is becoming the Parasite in this increasingly Parasitic relationship.
To start with, though YouTube is benefitting from the premium content Hulu offers, YouTube cannot run ads against this premium content. Though I don’t know if Hulu paid the minimum $200,000 required to have a brand channel on YouTube, even this cost doesn’t come close to the revenue that would be generated off of ads against Hulu’s premium content. Hopefully YouTube is charging Hulu much more than $200,000.
Adding further insult to injury, Hulu is running Hulu animated bumpers before each of their clips on YouTube. (Bumpers are short animations that run before clips signifying the creator or owner of the content.) So in essence, Hulu is promoting their own online video network on their rival’s network. This reminds me of the NFL playoffs awhile back where the upstart Fox network had just signed on the NFL and did a cross-broadcast with NBC during the Fox portion of the playoff broadcast. When it came time for NBC to reciprocate, they basically blew off Fox. I sense a similar lack of respect going on here but, ironically, Fox and NBC are now in bed together with Hulu.
Finally, making matters worse, Hulu is also running Hulu branded animated ads on the clips while they’re running – on YouTube! Sample clip below:
So how is this all relevant to Online Marketers and Advertisers? For now, not much as YouTube will continue to promote brand ‘contests’ and premium brand channels that marketers will gladly pay for. Premium brand channels are still a great way for brands to showcase their video content within the YouTube community. The Axe Effect brand channel is a great example of a premium brand channel but these are definitely not ‘free’ like normal channel sites such as Pepsi’s main brand channel.
One other area where YouTube is trying to grow revenue is by leasing out it’s real estate with home page takeovers like recent efforts for Wolverine and Sprint. But is that enough? 2008 revenue projections from YouTube would say no and even plans to try to monetize premium content might not be enough. With Hulu already owning the premium content space, it’s only a matter of time until advertisers and brands get wise to where the ‘valuable eyeballs’ are and move their dollars over to Hulu. That leaves the question – what’s YouTube to do?
IMO, YouTube is not going to win the premium content battle. Sure, they can always offer premium content on the site but that’s not what built YouTube into what it is today. YouTube was built by community members and User Generated Content. This is where Where The Hell Is Matt?, The Evolution Of Dance, and The Global Rendition of Stand By Me all reside and generated eye-popping numbers of views. This IS YouTube.
YouTube should overcome most of these challenges. Efforts that embrace the community in unique ways like The YouTube Symphony, are definitely steps in the right direction. However, YouTube does need to address the Hulu issue and address it soon. At first I thought the image above captured the Hulu / YouTube relationship perfectly. However, after digging around a little more and seeing just how uneven this relationship really is, I thought the PG-13 graphic below better encapsulated how Hulu must view this entire relationship.
We Are Organized Chaos (WAOC) is Zugara’s (www.zugara.com) interactive marketing and advertising blog where we’ll be featuring some great projects and discussing upcoming trends in the digital world. Work — good and bad — will be critiqued. Hope you’ll enjoy reading our insights and thoughts on interactive.