Why we’re partnering with YouTube
We’ve decided to ditch our own custom player (built on top of the open-source JW Player), and move to YouTube. There are several reasons we’ve decided to do this, but the last straw was YouTube’s move to offer a self-serve live streaming platform, initially to a small-ish set of existing live content producers, and eventually to the masses. I imagine Livestream is a little nervous at this moment. After all, YouTube is planning to give away for free a service for which premium Livestream customers are currently paying $350 per month.
Furthermore, you can aggregate all your traffic on one platform, via one player. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but YouTube’s player has improved by leaps and bounds over the last 2 years. When we were in the initial planning stages and deciding things like player technologies, we started out with Vimeo and then moved to JW. The players were either equal to or better than YouTube, and we could incorporate a paywall (which we did early on). Vimeo, in particular, once enjoyed the top spot among digital content producers - it was a clean experience, you could make videos public or private, password protect them, and share them easily. The player worked in Flash or HTML 5, was iOS compatible, etc. Vimeo had a reputation for quality among professional and pro-sumer content producers. Unfortunately, Vimeo hasn’t shown much progress, and IAC has squandered their once market-leading position for high quality content. The combination of Vimeo falling way behind and YouTube innovating at break-neck pace has completely changed the landscape. YouTube is now on top from a player technology perspective. It’s really not even close.
When you combine the ability to live stream with the advances in player technology, and THEN add the recent announcement that YouTube has set out to sign 100 original content producers as exclusive channel partners, it becomes clear that YouTube is aggressively pursuing a strategy to differentiate itself based on content quality. YouTube has now become a category killer. Netflix and Hulu should be on notice. YouTube is coming after your business too.
And of course the coup de gras is their 800 million customers. No one else comes close.
So we’ve decided to switch to YouTube. The aesthetic hit we’ll take from not being able to customize our own player should be greatly offset by the additional traffic we’ll get from the YouTube masses. No one goes to Livestream to just hang out and ‘watch something live’, but people go to YouTube all day long to watch everything. Including, increasingly, live content (every major music festival this year has been streamed on YouTube).
So if you’re a content producer today, and you have visions of creating your own stand-alone brand in your own little corner of the .com universe, I would challenge you to think again - why would you ever try to compete with YouTube’s distribution network? This game is over - focus on the content, and let someone else handle the distribution. As a content producer (or entrepreneur, or artist for that matter), you aren’t competing with other content producers like you, you’re competing with the 10 sites per day that people regularly visit (nytimes, facebook, twitter, cnn, wsj, rdio, etc.). Guess what? YouTube is that site for video, and will increasingly become THE destination for all types of video, both paid and free, both long-form and short-form, both live and on-demand, across every platform. They’ve won. No use fighting them any longer.
And one more thing - we’re also releasing all of our content for free. This post by @aweissman explains why, and I’d rather incorporate his post by reference than keep writing…
The Liveset TeamPermalink