Where Are They Now: Dark-Horse Digital Video Platforms
The simple truth of the web video community is that if you’re not YouTube or Netflix, chances are you’re not making headlines every day. Even close competitors like Vimeo and Hulu struggle to attract daily media attention in comparable amounts to streaming video’s Big Two. This, of course, means that even smaller startups offering semi-similar services are rarely heard from, if ever. However, that doesn’t mean those startups, technologies, and sites were dormant. In fact, 2013 has been a significant year for some of digital video’s biggest dark horses — for better and for worse.
Let’s catch up with some of web video’s more interesting startups and see how they coped in 2013. Who’s climbing to the top and who has fallen behind? Read on to find out.
Since it launched, Chill had trouble locking down an exact sales model. Originally launching as social video discovery site, Chill switched gears and became a video distribution platform that allowed creators to sell DRM free content for a set price. In October, Chil was forced to layoff 40% of its staff and halt all sales due to a lack of premium content sales. One month later, the site announced that it would close its doors as of December 15.
Founded in 2012, Blayze was responsible for building a video curation tool that gathered top videos from across YouTube. Using the tool, Blayze staff (many of whom were YouTubers) would provide context and humor-based analysis of trending videos.
Earlier this year, it was rumored that Blayze was in talks to purchase digital video new site NewMediaRockstars.com, but due to a Blayze investor pulling out of the company at the last minute, both the NewMediaRockstars deal and Blayze were benched. Currently, the Blayze site sports the following message: “Stay tuned, we’ll be back very soon!”
Despite remaining relatively out of the spotlight this year, Showyou has rolled out several important updates to its iOS and Android app this year. No less than a month ago, Showyou, which gathers the best videos from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, and other platforms for a tailored viewing experience, revamped its iOS app to work seamlessly with Apple iOS 7. At the time of the update, Showyou claimed that the app received around 15-20 million social impressions a day on Facebook and Twitter. In the iTunes store, the app also sports an impressive four-star rating across 1,198 reviews.
Launched in 2011, video social network YouNow allows users to stream live video from a webcam and microphone or the YouNow iOS app. Going beyond the traditional webcam format, YouNow gives broadcasters one dedicated minute to stream before viewers vote to keep them for another minute or end their stream. This year, YouNow was asked to demo the service at Dive Into Media, a conference put on by All Things Digital. The platform has also been adopted by top YouTubers Danisnotonfire, and Jack and Finn Harries, who use it to interact with their audiences instantly. On March 13, 2013, YouNow purchased BlogTV, a similar live video website.
After raising $3 million in Series A funding more than two years ago, VYou closed its doors in early 2013. The platform, which allowed creators to post response videos to questions asked by users, shut its doors after its consumer-facing products failed to take off. At the time of the shutdown, VYou cofounder Steve Spurgat told Betabeat that the company’s capital simply ran out. “A lot of it was capital related,” said Spurgat. “I think in the end it was just more of a business decision We had a very dedicated, very active community, but there just weren’t enough of them.”
To place Twitch in the “dark horse” category is a tough call. The live stream game site is arguably the biggest of its kind. This past February, Twitch announced that more than 600,000 unique Twitch broadcaster had attracted more than 28 million unique viewers. Amazingly, of those 28 million viewers, the average watch time was 1.5 hours of video per day. By any metric, those kinds of numbers mean success. Not to mention, MCN Machinima recently linked up with Twitch to develop a partnership which would see live eSports Machinima content on the streaming platform. Machinima would also bring its new and pre-existing content to Twitch as well.
Perhaps the most steady platform on this list, UStream has been around since 2007 and hosted streams from notable politicians like President Obama, Hilary Clinton, and John Edwards. This year, the live streaming platform, in conjunction with SuiteSpot, Mullen, and Unit 9, received a Shorty Award for “Best Mid-Sized Agency.” The platform also locked down a partnership with Sony to become a user broadcasting partner (along with Twitch) for the Playstation 4.
Founded in 2009, YouAreTV brings live video call-ins to streaming web shows. Josh Weinstein, CEO, YouAreTV, summed up the service rather succinctly in an April interview, saying: “Some people refer to it as [Google] Hangout on steroids.” During an April 2013 interview, Weinstein told us that YouAreTV is seeking partnerships and licensing deals to help fund the venture. At the time, it was rumored that the company would roll out partnerships in the coming months. However, YouAreTV has remained relatively mum throughout the year.
Tags: Blayze, Chill, Netflix, ShowYou, twitch, Ustream, VYou, YouNow, youtube