Overview of the video-on-the-web market

Here is a broad overview of the types of solutions and companies bringing video to the web. No doubt I’ve missed someone’s favorite category here…sorry about that.

Content Providers

These are traditional, mostly web 1.0 sites that offer lots of mostly commercial video. Notables here include the standard Yahoo portal, MSN Video, and iFilm.

Broadband Networks

These are companies trying to establish essentially TV networks on the web. I classify Brightcove as the most notable in this space. I’m sure there are a bunch of others here.

Hosting Services

These are the sites that I am most interested in. The early leader in this space is YouTube.com, but there are many, many others, including Google. These sites specialize in accepting videos uploaded by users and delivering that video back through their web sites. The interesting questions here are a)what features and services will appeal most to users, and b)what is the business model that works for these services.

The most obvious models that define this space are to be “the Flickr of video” or “the Myspace of video”. The Flickr model is essentially to be the utility service for publishing and serving video on the web. The Myspace model tries to add video as a key component of a social networking service. Google and Apple have taken an early lead in trying to create a marketplace for video, but I still think it’s early to tell how far that model goes given that people are so accustomed to ad supported models for video.

Video Search

There are a few solutions targeting video search in the marketplace now. These include Yahoo, Truveo (owned by AOL), and Singingfish. These services work like standard web search, returning you links to watch video off on other sites.

Other Services

There are a variety of other companies trying to get into the ecosystem here. Videoegg has a client-side app for helping with the encoding/uploading of video. Lots of companies (Instream, Broadband Enterprises) are trying to intermediate on video advertising.

Is there a cross-over model?
Currently most content sites are either commercial-only or user-gen only. The commercial content services have an obvious business model centered around showing pre-roll advertising. However, the user activity and growth seems to be squarely focused on user-generated video (see YouTube growth of late). The problem is that most user-gen sites have no revenue model other than a bit of banner advertising. So an interesting question is whether anyone can successfully mix commercial and user-gen content in the same service (you could argue that YouTube already does this by virtue of users uploading copyrighted content, but I think they will have to crack down on that going forward). If you could do it and gain user acceptance, then you might be able to find a profitable revenue model. One company trying to do this is my company gofish.com.

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