It's funny how the accelerated evolution of online video sites resembles a time-lapse view of the evolution of traditional media. The lesson is probably not one GooTube wants to hear...
I've noticed that online video channels are fragmenting rapidly, much in the same way that offline media fragmented over decades. YouTube was like the first TV channel with everything on it. Now its traffic is being picked off by new specialist sites like:
- Funny or Die - comedy clips, funded by Sequoia, again. Good thing Mike Moritz resigned from the board of Google, just in time...
- VideoJug - brilliant collection of How-To videos on absolutely everything. I wish I'd thought of this one!
- Travelistic - travel videos
- Gametrailers - trailers for video games
- StupidVideos - more AFHV than you can shake a stick at, on-demand
And many more -- think movie trailers, celebrity bloopers, sports clips, music videos, documentaries, animated shorts, etc. By the end of 2007 there will be 100s of specialist sites attracting reasonable amounts of traffic and able to survive.
[Bear with me here: the traffic numbers are still staggeringly in favour of YouTube, but growth has tapered off...:
Google's mistake in acquiring YouTube was to believe that YouTube could be universal, like search. But YouTube is media, while search is horizontal functionality. Media has to fragment to appeal to thousands of genres, cultures, classes and other affinity groups.
Google is great at search and at monetising traffic. But YouTube is content and as such its traffic is highly vulnerable to more specialist media. Google would have been better off doing a video indexing deal with YouTube, and the hundreds of other video sites out there, so that it becomes the best video search engine on the web. That would leverage its brand (universal search!) and its technology. But owning the media itself leverages neither, and exposes it to the shifting vagaries of consumer tastes in content. And we don't have a decent video search engine (as pointed out by VentureBeat's Bernard Moon here).
(Yahoo of course has the inverse problem -- it's a media company trying to do universal search and other horizontal functionality.... But that is for another post.)