Fee vs. Free Online Video. (Emarketer) The eMarketer report “Marketing to the Online Video Audience” highlighted this split among online video viewers. Most would prefer to watch video for free, but a significant minority is willing to pay in order to avoid at least some advertising. That suggests a hybrid model of reduced advertising along with smaller fees-similar to cable TV.
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.
I recently spoke on a panel at the Streaming Media East Conference in New York on Compelling Video Advertising Campaigns and while there had a chance to attend a few other sessions. This is a great conference to attend if you’re interested in anything related to video – digital, streaming, mobile, or other formats. Two real-time video technologies stood out and I wanted to briefly spread the word on each as I think they’re game changers in the world of real-time interactive video.
The first technology was called Qik (pronounced “Quick) and this is an application that allows you to shoot streaming video on your mobile phone and upload it to social communities like Facebook. They demo’d this technology at the conference track I attended and I have to say the quality was pretty impressive – especially when they showed the near high-def video a new Nokia handset was going to be able to stream. They also have an app in beta for the iPhone but nobody is quite sure yet how video will be shot on the iPhone 3.0. With current support for close to 100 mobile handsets, this is definitely a technology that will continue to usher in the era of real-time interactive video while mobile and on the web.
Unfortunately, I could not find any videos to embed but you can go to Qik’s Top Community Users (called Qikkers) and see some of the live and archived broadcasts. And yes, you’ll notice that Mrs. Kutcher is the #1 Qikker. It seems like the Kutchers are bent on domination of the live streaming world…
The second technology was called Mogulus which has recently rebranded to LiveStream.com. Livestream is an application that allows you to broadcast your live feed and chat live with your audience. Similar to UStream, Livestream also allows you to place ads in your broadcast allowing an additional layer of interactivity. To show how serious this application can get, the Pro version (which starts at $350/month) offers all your traditional broadcast tools (overlays, wipes, etc.) so you can literally be your own one man production crew. Though right now most of the Livestream broadcasts are news based, there are some entertaining uses of the live stream platform like below:
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.