So Google buys YouTube for $ 1.6B in stock and cash and suddenly the world wakes up. The result, hundreds of new entries into the funny video, video sharing and music video marketplace. I have heard many complaints about the sudden influx of content sites. To them I say, "shut it!". There can NEVER be enough content on the web. It is what the Internet was born to do (away from ubiquitous communication of course).
The aspect of this video surge that I find fascinating is the myriad of flavors and functions that have begun to emerge. Whether it is a video production for the sake of product exposure from Warner Brother's Spider Man 3 release to Billy Bob and his brother's run in with a tired opossum on tape, it is all interesting. But, most important is the purpose of the video and content site as the technology and creativity continues to evolve. Many sites are quickly seeing the value of aggregation and sharing within its own competitive community as well as developing new technologies to produce, publish and compare. The future looks bright my friends, hold on to your hats.
I have reviewed just a few of these sites for my own curiosity. Here they are:
Category: Video Upload and Sharing with Publishing Options
Ease of Use: The first thing that hits you with blip.tv is the clean structure and well spaced content. It does not over use color or dark space. But, the most useful feature has to be the channel selector scrolling feature on the main page. You can easily browse through the many channels that they have to offer with very quick response.
Social Networking Options: Once any feed is uploaded to blip.tv, you are offered the immediate and repeated ping to technorati as well as cross posting to Myspace, Flickr and Del.icio.us. Additionally, they have automatic feeds to Yahoo video, AOL video and MSN video. If your intent is monetization, blip.tv is well plugged in and considered a big dog in this space.
Speed: Overall rating is Excellent. Their main page is light at 22KB and loads in less than .25 sec.
Content: Very deep content and very well managed. The video database is extensive and the most popular items are very clean. Their video channels are also very creative and professional. You have many options for fun, general entertainment, even some activism if you so desire. Although I would not categorize this as a funny video site, overall, this video site is very impressive and describes much credit on the product.
Category: Video Upload and Sharing
Ease of Use: It is typical Google. The interface is very clean, but usually basic. Not a great deal of bling to it. It does, however, allow you to add video metadata for all of your files as well as a transcript. As you would expect, integration with Google AdSense is a no brainer.
Social Networking Options: The video verification process is slow and unnecessary, see my thoughts below. Nothing here to speak of.
Speed: As you would expect speed is excellent, although I'm a bit surprised the main page is not very light at 130KB. But, of course, they have the fattest pipes in the market at sub .01KB / sec.
Content: Google video has six main channels including comedy and music videos. As expected, the music videos are non-licensed in nature and although amusing, not what I was looking for. At the top of the TV Shows channel, you can buy "One Hour with Bill Gates on the Charlie Rose Show" for .99 cents. Wow, what a deal. I'll pass, but thank you. Quite frankly, Google is hamstrung on content due to the behemoth that it is and can rarely never show anything that has even an inkling of proprietary conflict. Overall, I was very disappointed.
Category: Video Entertainment Aggregator
Ease of Use: This site may be the friendliest of all reviewed, believe it or not. The channel structure is very simple (listed at top) and the search interface hits you right in the face from the beginning. Some additional features include multiple source options for videos (very handy for protected content), wiki style video tag search option on main page and two separate tabbed tables for most viewed and newer additions. Very clean.
Social Networking Options: Very effective method used here. For every item selected there exists a tabbed and copy option for Myspace, Xanga, Bebo and even general blog entries for immediate inclusion. Very simple, very slick.
Speed: Very lightweight front page at 40KB and excellent load rates at .01KB / sec.
Content: Maybe the only possible downside to this video entertainment site. The content is good, but many "content unavailable" links exist within the music video section, which is the main focus. This is understandable as music video rights are in constant conflict, but cleanup is needed. But, overall, as a music video and funny video focused site, Videocodezone does an excellent job.
Category: Video Entertainment Aggregator
Ease of Use: This is one of the sites I manage, but I will be brutally honest with myself and you. The current interface is very simple but free of any useful options other than search. As an aggregator, it is simply indexing from many locations in an attempt to find the most appropriate content for the user. And in this role it does a good job. But, really at this point, Slubber is quite featureless. But, this will change as a second revision is on its way. Of course, I will review again.
Social Networking Options: None at this time, but seamless Myspace Layout integration is on the way.
Speed: Very lightweight frontpage at 50KB with load rates at .01KB / sec.
Content: Currently content is average, but many feeds currently exist from college humor sites. So content is very different from that of the main players here and then is worth of review. But, clearly, for the next revision the content feed option needs to be jacked up substantially. I recommend checking this site out and again reviewing by end of summer. Many changes "are a comin".
Crackle (formerly Grouper)
Category: Video Sharing and Entertainment with Focus on Publication
Ease of Use: Extremely simple to navigate. The main page is loaded with different navigation options to one of its deep list of video channels. Crackle is really focused on production quality releases and thus has geared the main page along those lines. The site could easily be considered its own TV show.
Social Networking Options: RSS is fully integrated with many options for site integration as well as pre-integrated with all of the main players including Friendster and Del.icio.us. But, it does not really offer much in the way of personal integration so do not look for much hot linking help here.
Speed: Main page is light at 12KB but load rate is medium at best at .03s / KB. Does that translate into poor performance for you? No, it does not. But, relative to other players it is on the lower side.
Content: This is where Crackle shines. Crackle content is all production quality with some of the most interesting and well done features I have seen on the net. It is obvious this company is very committed to insuring content quality versus content quantity. There was a long list of quality funny video entries as well as music video channels. I highly recommend a visit, but make sure you have lots of time to spare since there is a lot to see.
I wanted to get to a couple of other entries for this review, but I have a South African Syrah calling my name. I intend to take a deep look at Dogster and Videoegg on the next round as well as some older players like Revver, YouTube and maybe even Viveo.
Overall, all of the sites were of good use in one form or another. I was definitely most "wowed" by Crackle just from the quality of presentation and content. Videocodezone certainly provided the best integration for social networking. My greatest disappointment was Google Video. Honestly, I thought it was pointless. Google Video has no shortage of cash but yet it seemed the least creative and most protective of its corporate structure. We will see how it evolves. Out.