YouTube’s cracks starting to show

I just got an e-mail from a blogging buddy. This blogger loves YouTube and finds a variety of interesting entertainment on the site — old music videos and TV shows, mainly — rarely anything current or widely popular.

Lately, he’s been getting frustrated because so much of what he’s previously embedded on his site has disappeared from YouTube because of the increasingly vigilant IP police. He wonders if he should just delete every embedded post he’s ever done and stop with the YT video.

My take: Why stop. Your posts that are more than a week old are way down the long tail by now, so I wouldn’t worry about them, and if you find something interesting and get a week’s worth of traffic out of it, that’s a good ROI.

As background, my position on YouTube has never been that it is popular for just one reason. I’ve heard people say that YT would falter once it lost all its pirated video. Not true, I’ve said, because underneath all the IP content is a vibrant community of original content creators and social networkers. There is a lot of value in YT even without clips of Rockford Files and Sly and Family Stone.

But my bet is that most of the bloggers who embed YT video pick stuff that is IP and is subject to eventual takedown.

Which raises the question — how long before the viral value of YT’s content model is stymied? Sharing won’t stop, and some original YT content is going to have a, “hey, Martha, take a look at this” appeal, but not a lot of it.

Where I’m going with this is: YouTube is changing. Competitors are lining up to try and kill it, IP owners are getting aggressive, and its core competitive advantages are easy to replicate. YouTube is a great brand, but brand may not be enough to protect Google’s $1.6 billion investment.

As users become more disenchanted with YouTube (through no real fault of YT), the more dispersed and distributed (less aggregated) video model I see emerging will become more powerful.

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3 thoughts on “YouTube’s cracks starting to show

  1. Your observations are very timely. We are strongly considering installing a video player / platform based on YT’s format. It generates a link for quick includes to other sites and even has the branding watermark. Now that affordable YT knock off applications are rolling out by the thousands in other sites YT is likely to lose eyeballs.

    Now to my point and query. As a general rule, our industry (newspaper) is held to much higher conservative standards than sites like YT. As we integrate our online editions with social networks we are finding the “monitoring/editing” expense to be proportionately much greater than our non-news counterparts. Theoretically, the trusted content and environment should be more valuable. Right? If I’m right then we should have no problem justifying the extra expense it takes to hold our socially generated content to the same high standards of our news organizations. Or, am I wrong?

  2. Well, this is more than a year-old post, so I don’t know how timely it is. Glancing through, not sure how much I agree with it still.

    But to your questions.

    I would say there is a two-fold advantage to YT in cost savings … one is they pretty much shoulder the burden of vetting UGC (if you use it for that), except for comments (YT is pretty liberal on its commenting policy, though we’ve had few problems with comments on our YT videos). Also you save huge fees to the commercial hosting services.

    The downside is lack of control over advertising models. The commercial hosting providers offer more options.

    That said, YT does have an API now that can help you integrate YT directly into your site, and if you can find the programming prowess, might be able to overcome even the advertising limitations.

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