Top Ten Video Sharing Websites

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Among other things, 2006 will be remembered as the year online video really became something you share, not just something you log onto and watch.

Sure, there will always be a place for viral videos that get emailed to dozens of friends and coworkers. I mean, who ever gets tired of watching a cat flush a toilet or seeing a skateboarder render himself infertile?

But the sheer volume of video sharing sites that have come online in the past 18 months suggests that the online video trend won’t be confined to something people do to entertain themselves on a coffee break. To wit, hundreds of thousands of consumers are beginning to share video online, and that’s having a profound impact on how much bandwidth is consumed and how broadband providers make money.

“HDTV, next-generation gaming, personal video, and digital photography will all contribute to the emergence of a new broadband gold standard of 100 Mbit/s symmetric over the next 12 to 24 months,” writes Heavy Reading senior analyst Graham Finnie in his latest report on the fiber-to-the-home market. (See FTTH Hits Mainstream.)

Video sharing: the viral spiral
Bandwidth consumption isn’t the only byproduct of the increase in video sharing. Content distribution networks are beefing up, and the companies in that space are thriving as Web-based services make it easy to exchange larger and larger files. (See CacheLogic Builds P2P Content Network and Video Caching Steps Into the Limelight.) Also, service providers like AT&T Inc. (NYSE: Tmessage board) are pairing up with Internet TV companies like Akimbo Systems to make sure they can deliver, not just regular TV channels, but some consumer-generated content as well. (See AT&T, Cisco Elbow Into Akimbo and Will Telcos Want Their Dave.tv?)

Content makers and advertisers are seeking out online video sites as a way to reach younger demographics. (See Google Pushes MTV Video.) Even Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFTmessage board) says it won’t be left out. “MSN is currently developing a user-generated/user-submitted video solution that will launch this year,” a spokeswoman for Microsoft says. “The solution will integrate with Windows Live Spaces and across MSN.com. Stay tuned!”

The Top Ten
With all that going on, it’s definitely worth looking at who stands out in this ridiculously crowded space. Since popular opinion does matter online – where the consumer experience is hugely important – we thought it’d be useful to rank some of the Internet’s most popular video sharing sites by how they performed from the point of view of someone wanting to post videos rather than just look at someone else’s.

Without further ado, here’s our list of the Top Ten Video Sharing Sites

The complete rankings
Here are the video sharing site rankings, in full:

Click here to view Table 1.

The burning questions
Now that you know who the winners and losers are, let’s get into how we arrived at our scores. It all started with the following blogs, which helped generate the list of 45 video sharing Websites that we went on to evaluate, and helped identify the issues that differentiate them:

Each site was visited, used, and scored in three main areas that we felt would make the most difference to the largest number of people wanting to post videos for sharing with others:

  • Ease of use. Maximum possible score: 30
  • File size, storage limitations. Maximum possible score: 30
  • “Other stuff” including format flexibility, editing capabilities, distribution networks, and privacy options. Maximum score 40.

The scoring system aims to reflect the likely viewpoint of consumers who are relatively new to video sharing – folks more inclined to start out by just sharing video with family and friends. We also gave lots of consideration to content creators who are using the Internet as a cheap distribution platform. Hence the scoring that goes beyond ease of use to also look at costs, site performance, file size limitations, and distribution options.

The people whose needs we really didn’t consider are the compulsive viral video posters looking for an “Internet hit.” Chances are that group has found a handful of favorite sites already.

For the reasons behind some of the scores, check out Table 2:

Click here to view Table 2.

This drills down on the following issues:

  • Video editing capabilities
  • File size limit
  • How much it costs
  • Whether videos can be kept private
  • Whether a software download is necessary

The fine print
One final thing we didn’t grade, but users should watch out for, are the terms of use. Most free video sharing services, with few exceptions, grant themselves a license to monetize and advertise your uploaded content any way they can. And very few, if any, of the bucks those sites may make off of your stuff will ever reach your bank account.

Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOOmessage board), for instance, grants itself the right to use your videos “for advertising, promotional or commercial purposes, including without limitation, the right to publicly display, perform, reproduce and distribute Your Video Content in any media format or medium and through any media channels.”

And Yahoo’s terms are pretty typical. Another way to think of it: If you upload a certifiable mainstream hit, they’ll make bank on the motion picture rights and DVD sales – not you. So there. You’ve been warned. Be careful.

Copping some traffic
So now we’ve covered our methodology, here are some final bits of information we picked up along the way that, while not critical to our rankings, do shed some light on the overall growth of the online video sharing market.

One item of interest: Not all the sites that stand out, performed well, and flourished in the rankings have managed to attract a massive online audience. Interestingly, only a few in our Top Ten List have what could be considered remarkable traffic numbers, but that’s likely to change, considering how relatively new some of these video sharing services are:

Click here to view Table 3.

Finally, while we’re focusing here on video sharing services, we thought it might also be interesting to see what online video sites are most popular in the U.S. and abroad. Relatively few sites have managed to pull off becoming both an entertainment destination and a user-friendly hub for video distribution:

Click here to view Table 4.

Click here to view Table 5.

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

Jim Kaskade

Jim Kaskade is a serial entrepreneur & enterprise software executive of over 35 years. He recently successfully exited a PE-backed SaaS company, Janrain, in the digital identity security space. He started his career engineering massively parallel processing datacenter applications. Prior to identity, he led a digital application business of over 7,000 people ($1B). Prior to that he led a big data & analytics business of over 1,000 ($250M). He was the CEO of a Big Data Cloud company ($50M); was an EIR at PARC (the Bell Labs of Silicon Valley) which resulted in a spinout of an AML AI company; led two separate private cloud software startups; founded of one of the most advanced digital video SaaS companies delivering online and wireless solutions to over 10,000 enterprises; and was involved with three semiconductor startups (two of which he founded, one of which he sold). Jim has an Electrical and Computer Science Engineering degree from University of California, Santa Barbara, with an emphasis in semiconductor design and computer science; and an MBA from the University of San Diego with an emphasis in entrepreneurship and finance.

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