Here’s a business idea for you to consider…
At the moment if you want to watch a YouTube video, you watch it in a YouTube-supplied Flash player. That’s the case for most of the video sharing sites – and is also the case regardless of whether you are watching the video on their site or embedded in a blog or webpage.
Have you ever wondered why that is? What would be the opportunities from offering your own third-party player?
Everyone seems to be powering their social video sites with FLV – Flash-based video. Like other video formats, it’s just an encoded video stream and can run on any player that has that codec installed. With that in mind, there’s no reason why you have to play a YouTube video inside a YouTube supplied + branded player.
Why not build your own Flash based player and give bloggers the opportunity to easily embed it on their pages? With a bit of simple programming you could easily build a page that accepts the url or embed code of any of the major video websites, extracts the url of the Flash video stream and then recreates the embed code to play that video in your own player.
With your own player, you then have the opportunity to:
- Insert your own pre or post roll advertising
- Gather metrics and analysis on current video usage (could be more valuable than the advertising)
- Cross-promote other video from your network to load into the player… and then serve another ad, etc
- Drive traffic to your video aggregate site (or someone else’s via an affiliate deal)
- Offer a better interface – some of the Flash players really suck and there’s opportunity to build something that looks better and is faster to load, etc.
Why would a blogger want to use your embedded player over the official one? Simple: a rev share split on any advertising from the advertising profit made from each video. Plus perhaps the ability to personalize it with their own color scheme, embedded on-screen logo, etc.
At the moment you earn nothing if you post a YouTube video to your blog, with this you could at least make a small cut. And hopefully by analyzing the tags and metadata from the original video page you have the ability to target the advertising to the video content AND to the demographic of the site that’s hosting a given instance of the embedded video player.
Legal and moral implications
In terms of copyright – such as what happens if someone plays a video in your player that turns out to infringe someone’s rights to copyright – my interpretation is that this would still be YouTube’s issue as they would still the be ones hosting the video stream… Just like it’s not Microsoft’s liability if people watch illegally downloaded XVids on Windows Media Player.
Clearly such a proposition would be very controversial because you are essentially diverting eyeballs away from the people hosting the video and onto your own platform.
However I see this issue to be a similar paradigm to the text based aggregation space.
At the end of the day FLV (Flash Video Format) can be viewed as a syndication format just like RSS. Both have no context on their own, and require someone to wrap a context around them in order to create value.
Value is perhaps the key word here. If you’re adding value for consumers by improving their viewing experience, making recommendations that cross the silos of YouTube/Google Video/Guba/Revver/et el and offering some kind of convenient aggregation service at what point does it be come acceptable and justifyable to offer up your own advertising?
Of course I think it would be wrong not to provide attribution and link back to the original host supplier of the video, although it’s curious that none of the big video sits current make any attribution to the individual author of the video in their embedded players. Again this could be another feature of the custom player as uploader profile information would be available via most site’s API or web page too.
Who’ll do this first?
Most would agree that all of the ‘big fish’ (eg YouTube) have already been caught, but I think video is still a hot area that’s ripe with opportunity. There may not be many(/any) $1.3b deals to be made but there’s still plenty of pie for those who want a slice.
Like most industries that mature out of their eclectic ’emerging phase’, the trick is to move up the stack, and offer new services with key drivers that make the most of the platform(s) that have already been built. And generally speaking, such propositions can be smaller, more agile and cost less to build and maintain.
I call this ‘disrupting the disruptives’. A business like YouTube can’t be disruptive forever. Once it’s done it’s thing and gone legit, it’s ripe for having the same rug pulled from under it that it just pulled from under the guy in front.
In a new article looking at the current state of play in the video-over-web and IPTV market, Michael Arrington writes on TechCrunch about the new opportunities to be made in the IPTV and ‘video-on-web’ space. As Michael concludes in his piece:
“And there are countless other opportunities as well. Just find an entrenched business. Then eat their lunch as they watch, paralyzed.”
By ‘entrenched’ he’s referring to the current media incumbents – the NBC’s and CBS’s of this world and even the Yahoo!’s. However who’s to say Revver or Guba won’t soon become (/aren’t already?) entrenched themselves, and ready too to have their lunch taken from them?
If anyone is interested in this idea, then please get in touch – mail AT benmetcalfe.com. I have some further thoughts about this opportunity that I think make it a killer opportunity.