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Disrupting the disruptives: Kicking it to YouTube + Co by offering your own embedded video player

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

I’ve had a look YouTube’s Code of Conduct and Terms of Use and there’s nothing in there that seems to preclude this opportunity.

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 I have some further thoughts about this opportunity that I think make it a killer opportunity.

Published in Thoughts and Rants


  1. I think what you’re describing Revvr – – is doing already.

    YouTube offers another benefit, their intrinsic amount of eyeballs. If I want something to be seen I post it on YouTube so the people that live and die on the site can watch it.

    Just a thought.

  2. I think the first paragraph on “website access” might be enough to exclude it, they state you must not copy or modify anything other than is reasonable to use the site. They also say no automated access. Basically I wouldn’t recommend trying to build a business on it! They do have googles legal team behind them after all

  3. There is InVideo as reported by Techcrunch. Pud rocks.

    A player developed centrally, but hosted by many different parties would be very difficult to block, I’d imagine.

    Interesting piece today on Wired on how the ‘entrenched’ Yahoo “blew it”.

  4. Ben Ben


    I read the same parts as you but interestingly there are some loop holes there.

    The first is about automated access. The complete line says:

    You agree not to use or launch any automated system, including without limitation, “robots,” “spiders,” “offline readers,” etc., that accesses the Website in a manner that sends more request messages to the YouTube servers in a given period of time than a human can reasonably produce in the same period by using a convention on-line web browser.

    (emphasis mine to highlight the key points).

    So according to that you can use automated access, just not ram their server.

    The stuff about ‘not copying or modifying anything’ still stands too. If the embedded player is built from scratch and not based on anything YouTube/other has already done (which would be easy, as YouTube’s player source code is not available) then one wouldn’t be modifying the player. Simply loading in a FLV stream is not modifying anything and by the very nature of it being a ‘stream’ rather than a ‘download’ there is no copying of the media either.

    I agree Google has good lawyers and in life justice is only as good the lawyer you can afford. You might be totally in the clear, but sure someone might try and fight it… if you can’t afford to stand up to any legal threat then you’re no better off than if you were infringing anyway.

    However the same could be said for all disrupters – and even YouTube. People probably said to them that the media industry has good lawyers who would shut them down… They managed to servive long enough to gain a following that enabled them to sell up and broker a deal with the media companies.

  5. Ben Ben


    I don’t believe Revver is doing this – they are hosting their own content which they then post-roll, which is different to this aggregation concept which I’ve described.


    “A player developed centrally, but hosted by many different parties would be very difficult to block, Iā€™d imagine.”

    Absolutely. The beauty of embed players is that the video is loaded by the end client and thus there is nothing to identify whether the player is ‘genuine’ or ‘third-party’

    It does look like AdBrite InVideo is similar, but I wonder whether they are doing it with other people’s videos or just ones that people upload to them?

  6. So … we already built one! Are we first? šŸ˜‰

    Go and check out our videoWrapplet … we’re working on the next release now, but we already have the player completed, and yes … we are gathering all sorts of back-end analytics. You can see some of them being displayed at .

    We’re in the early stages of development, and will soon have the next version deployed. I’m curious to hear your thoughts!

    P.S. Yes … currently the embed codes are optimized for Myspace. We have been working on the next rev to provide codes designed to work in other sites like WordPress, etc. We can tell you that the embedding world out there is a tough place … some allow EMBED … others want OBJECT. OBJECT works one way in IE, and a different way in FireFox. šŸ™‚

  7. Ben Ben

    Hey Scott

    This is the ‘nuts and bolts’ of what I was thinking, although implemented very differently – obviously for profile pages etc.

    I think something similar but for one off videos (your proposition in it’s current implementation doesn’t work so well for bloggers as you would only want to include video relevant to your current post rather than all your favorite videos).

    I don’t think it’s the technical side of embedding that’s hard – a good standards complaint embed script should have both object and embed in it anyway.

    The issue is that the various hosted services try their best to remove your third-party content. do this, for example, and as I understand it the only way you’ll get your embeds on is if you have a business deal with WordPress’s parent company Automattic.

    From that perspective altering your code to circumvent a current filter might work in the short term but if it’s outside of their business deal then you can’t assume your embeds will remain on their service for long.

  8. Tom Tom

    I might have some of the answers. If you are in London on Thursday, please do pop in.

  9. Bernd Bernd

    I think you should look to a service called rel=””. It is basically what you describe in this artikle. You make a free account and are able to make a channel filled with videos of videhostservices like youtube , and so on. The Feedbeat Service simply take the videos and line them up to a channel that buts video after video to a “stream”. Its functionality is very limited while in beta version, but the basic princible is working now. So what you get is a site with nothing else but the videos, and a back end where you can manage what videos from what sources you want to have in your channel. Perhaps its something similar to what you want. A plugin/widget for wordpress where you can manage, filter and aggregate videos from videohostingservices would be realy cool. But who knows what the future will bring! greetings

  10. I think it’s doubtful that sites will allow you to access the FLV directly, since it strips their branding off. At we’ve been building a service that leverages the existing embed codes. We even have a Flash player that “wraps” the Flash player from the other site. I suggest this might be a more fruitful way to go, since you’re not reverse engineering anyone’s flv stream.

  11. Chico Chico

    Another one that does what you say is Trooker – . The set playing on their home page is the embedded player that the users can use for posting videos from various sites in one set and then they can post it on their blog or MySpace. While they preserve the branding of the source of the video the player is obviously theirs.

  12. Hot Garden Fountain Freak…

    Hey, this is not completely true, if you do a search in Google you will see why i say that….

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