Dailymotion: the French Online Video Champion Is 10 Years Old — Like YouTube

/ Feb 27, 2015


By Pierre Ziemniak

Does YouTube have any real rivals? Let’s forget Facebook, Snapchat, and other social networks breaking through in the online video space for a minute. Google does have strong competitors in this field – interestingly enough, they were created at about the same time YouTube was launched. And there’s more: one of them is French!

You must have heard of Dailymotion as a video-sharing platform, but just how big is it? With 2.2 billion
video views and 105 million unique visitors per month in 2014 – as the official key figures read – it’s the 32nd-most visited website worldwide. ReelSEO points out that Dailymotion’s lack of notoriety outside the frontiers of Europe may be due to Google’s supremacy on search engines, but notes that “despite the fact that Dailymotion is non-existent in video rankings globally, they are ranked #2 in Europe behind YouTube and are Europe’s most visited web site.” How did a French company manage to get such an important position in 10 years?

Dailymotion’s trajectory is more similar to YouTube’s than one may think. Founded just a few monthsDailymotion Android App after its American rival, on March 15, 2015 – as Vidcaster writes – the French company quickly positioned itself as a European innovator, partnering with Warner and recruiting executives from MTV UK as well as Time Warner to launch a US version as early as 2007. Major tech improvements followed: in 2009, it was the first major web video site to incorporate support of the open video format Ogg, with the help of Mozilla. The platform then introduced an Android app in 2011; an original “DailyQuizz” Social Video Game in 2011; a thorough syndication model allowing additional advertising revenue the same year; and, last but not least, a cloud-based video hosting platform in 2012.

The platform’s early focus on content creators is clearly one of its trademarks: be it via new monetization tools, crowdfunding campaigns, or other empowering options for video uploaders, Dailymotion always put them at the centre of its strategy. This is where it’s probably more relevant to compare the French company with Vimeo, and not with YouTube: in September 2012, Forbes noted that “like Vimeo, Dailymotion was inspired in part by the massive role that Kickstarter has come to play in funding independent creative projects,” taking the example of MotionMaker, Dailymotion’s “programme for do-it-yourself filmmakers, comedians, and content creators.” The platform even partnered with Swedish micropayments platform Flattr the same year, to “create the world’s first global-scale, socially funded video network.”

The next step in Dailymotion’s story has to do with its very owners. Such an innovative platform – one of Europe’s only companies able to rival with US online video giants – was soon noticed by local media moguls. French media and telecom company Orange acquired 49% of Dailymotion for $78 million (€59 million) in January 2011, then the remaining 51 stake for $80.6 million (€61 million) in January 2013. This was a turning point in the platform’s history: Orange is partly owned by the French government, a fact that reinforced Dailymotion’s position as a national tech champion and its mission to shine worldwide.

What followed created quite a controversy in France; and its consequences can still be felt in the local Yahoo_newmedia sector. In the first months of 2013, Yahoo tried to buy as much as 75 percent of Dailymotion for an estimated $300 million. The French government opposed the deal, unwilling to let go one of the country’s tech leaders, and proposed a “win-win partnership” at 50-50 instead – an offer declined by Yahoo. Many French tech companies were shocked by this decision, though, fearing that the government would always interfere in any investment or buyout deals with foreign investors.

But this episode didn’t stop Dailymotion from innovating: the platform continued to promote its initiatives for content creators, like opening studios in Paris and New York in 2013. On the tech side, it partnered with Opera TV Snap to allow its users to reach Smart TV devices the same year, and launched an Apple TV app in October 2014. All deals with Yahoo were not cancelled, far from it: the US media giant was chosen to be the platform’s sole sales representative to serve ads across its Italian and UK properties.

Now that Dailymotion has confirmed its role as one of the few global online video platforms that count, what does the future hold for its content creators, its users and investors? Only time will tell, but some of the company’s strategic orientations for years to come are already known: it will continue to encourage video advertising through partnerships, such as the deal concluded just a few days ago with TubeMogul, Dailymotion Gameswhich will allow advertisers to purchase in-stream inventory and custom audience segments; it will also do more in the video games sector, with a Twitch competitor for video game streaming already launched. Last but not least, as Orange’s CEO Stéphane Richard recently declared, “Dailymotion is no longer considered a political symbol by the French government,” which allows Orange to sell its controlling stake. Rumors of talks with Microsoft and Canal+ circulated in 2014, with no concrete deal to date. Orange may decide to take Dailymotion public if no suitable buyer is found.

In any case, both authorities and executives agree that the tech jewel will have to keep its French heritage. A bold decision in a fast-changing online landscape where the platform is constantly compared to YouTube by media analysts, stressing the importance of ever-faster development.

Bonne chance, Dailymotion!

Dailymotion is a partner of MIP Digital Fronts, two days of showcases and much more, dedicated to the finest online video in the world.

This is the latest in a series of exclusive posts in partnership with MIPBlog, the year-round industry knowledge platform of MIPTV & MIPCOM. Pierre Ziemniak is MIP Markets’ community manager. Follow him on Twitter here.

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