YouTubers Get Love from Yahoo, Google and Disney

Yahoo, Disney and Google are proving that being popular on YouTube matters.
Yahoo, Disney and Google are proving that being popular on YouTube matters.

It’s a good time to be a YouTuber… or at least own a popular YouTube channel. We’re seeing the online-video landscape mature, and start to resemble how networks and studios connect. The networks (Disney, Yahoo, YouTube) are working with studios (online-video studios and some individual partners/channels) in some interesting ways….

What’s interesting about these big moves is how markedly different this is from the past behavior of these companies.

  • We saw Disney making some early bets with its own home-grown online-video content. Remember Stage 9?
  • Yahoo contacted me and other YouTubers around 2008 to discuss potential revenue-sharing deals. They were considering exclusivity at the time, and that’s a deal breaker for YouTubers that won’t give up their primary audience.
  • And Google? It hasn’t even marketed itself well, much less its partners. And who would ever imagined the tech-engineering company would advertise YouTube partners on TV, print or outdoor? They’re doing it, but you know it pains them.

So what’s all this mean?

  • These events don’t impact your typical YouTuber, but the winners of the Yahoo/Google efforts will be the YouTube creators with large audience and studio representation by one of the online-video networks. That’s because Yahoo and Google will have to deal with the complexities of Discovery to get to Revision3 content, and Disney to get to Maker channels/creators.
  • But watch for partnerships between Yahoo and smaller studios like Fullscreen, BigFrame and Collective. 
  • And what about Google’s efforts to promote YouTubers beyond the YouTube regulars? I would expect to see “the rich get richer,” because it’s most likely to promote the proven content with top views. So like a marathon’s second half, we’ll see an increasing distance between the leaders and the rest.
  • There will surely be some more attempts to lock creators and studios to “exclusive” arrangements, although Yahoo won’t get anywhere requiring that of popular YouTubers. But it makes sense. TV shows don’t get to broadcast on every channel. The networks pick the shows, and promote them to “their” audience. We’ll see that happening with top YouTube channels in coming months and years, which is why YouTube will have to work harder to cultivate relationships and keep stars/channels.

What’s your take? And where is the Global Online Video Association in all of this? How about a POV, Kontonis?


Can a Search Engine Detect and Rank Comedy? Google Tries.

The newest funny cat on YouTube says No No No No

Look out “I Are Cute Kitten.” There’s a new cat in town, and she says No No No No. And according to research it’s the funniest video out there.
Google is trying to create an algorithm that ranks a video in terms of humor/comedy. Here’s an article about the subject, and here’s a BBC World Service Radio interview I just did live on the topic. Humor is a difficult thing for a computer to detect, but I do think we can collect viewer reactions to draw conclusions.

I spoke last year at the International Society for Humor Studies (see presentation) and the academics and psychologists were having trouble agreeing on the constructs and classifications of humor. It’s a bit like sculpting fog to predict what makes us laugh.
Can Google do it? It is a company made up mostly of engineers. It won’t be an easy or precise task, but I won’t rule it out.
Naturally I DO think that humor can be researched based on human reactions. That’s why (as seen below) I always test my videos behind one-way glass with indepth interviews and focus groups.

8 Ways to Turn your TV Into a Web-Video Player (for under $99)

AppleTV is slick and all. But Roku's packed with content, and darnit I like that little purple clothing tab
Online-video on your TV is not this difficult anymore.

Sure most BlueRay disc players have the ability to stream YouTube and other content. But it’s 2011.

Walk away from anything that requires physical media and, gasp, has moving parts.

Here are 8 plus ways to stream videos from the Interweb to that big-ass monitor your mama calls an HDTV. CNet reviews the collection, and generally comes down with the Roku 2 as the winner above the AppleTV. I have both, and was an AppleTV raving fan who purchased horrific amounts of content I was too lazy to seek out for free. Then the AppleTV started giving me password and synching problems, and the new $99 TV-rental model felt unfair. So both have been paperweights for a few months, but the Roku is still an easy way to stream my all-you-can-eat Netflix movies.

  1. Roku 2 XS 1080 for $99 is a pretty sweet deal (Amazon affiliate links). Easy startup, and there’s plenty of default content in addition to YouTube and Netflix. Seriously that little fabric tag is almost as cute as a Chumby octopus.

    Worship me. I am Chumby.
  2. AppleTV’s $97 model is decent, but a step backward not forward. Had Jobs stuck around, this might have gotten interesting.
  3. Logitech Revue (GoogleTV) got a luke warm Cnet review, but the keyboard makes it a favorite of many “lean forward lean backers.”
  4. Sony SMPU10 USB Media Player- it’s ass. Skip it.
  5. WD-TV Live Plus Western Digital thing. Doesn’t come with wifi built in, which is like sending it out without a friggin’ power cord. CNet liked it, but the readers didn’t.
  6. VeeBeam: Some reviews say it’s easy to install, but it simply provides a wireless delayed stream from your laptop to a TV. Seems like a cheap connector would make more sense. Am I missing something?
  7. Netgear offers some Push2TV device that works with an Intel wireless laptop (widi), so if you can figure that out… go for it.
  8. A Friggin’ HDMI Cable (from laptop to TV): Finally, if you’re going to tie up your damned laptop, how about connecting a stinkin’ $5 HDMI cable directly from it? I’m not seeing the appeal of choices 6 and 7, when a simple cable does most of the work without lag. Depending on your laptop, you may need an adapter to have it HDMI ready, but remember that HDMI is an HD cord that carries audio and video.
So that’s my modification of the CNet article, but keep in mind that there are other options, ranging from TiVo and your stupid cable-TV box to various videogame players that will achieve much of this (and may be sitting idle in your home).
TiVo logo
Suck it Chumby. I was around longer and can do more.




Are You Young or Old? Rich or Poor? Your Tech Reveals All…

Want to know if you’re rich or poor? Young or old? Here’s a way to tell that’s easier than profiling yourself on RealAge or auditing W2’s.

1. Do You Search Facebook or Google Plus?

Use Facebook to search? You’re more likely to earn less than $100K and be old. Use Google+ for search and you’re more likely to make more than $100K and be younger. Don’t shoot the messenger here (for he is older and poorer than you think). Shoot comScore instead, and recognize that this is perhaps more indicative of the “early adopters” of Google Plus, who are perhaps largely both young and rich (a lucrative target market). Haven’t heard of Google Plus? You may be dead.

2. iPhone or Android?

comScore’s San Francisco office exclusively uses iPhones, and its New York office is littered with Androids, but those searching on these devices are fairly similar in demographics. So this doesn’t really say as much about you as you’d like to believe. Still using a Blackberry? Save your upgrade cash for a funeral plot.

3. Use Bing? Yeah you’re old with kids

Sorry. You’re more likely to be old with kids. Sure this is 2-year-old data, but the only thing newer about Bing is that it’s better at travel searches. Now get back to work. 

4. Do you accept mobile coupons?

If so, you’re probably 18-34 years old. If not, you’re probably older. If the mobile coupon is for Depends, just keep moving like a horse, and piss wherever and whenever you like.

5. Read TechCrunch or CrabbyOldFart?

Yeah, I’ll let you guess on that one. If you’re still using your hotmail or aol account, I’d like to welcome you to your first “blog” and encourage you to upgrade your 56K modem.

Shit no I'm not surfing on this bitch.

A World With Free Hardware (Google/Motorola)

This is a 2010 cartoon. A lot's changed in a year, huh?

Why did Google buy Motorola Mobility? For the patents, or in preparation for a world where hardware, like software, is free and ad supported? This is a tricky thing to consider in the Mac Era where, “Apple needs people to congregate around a very small number of designs–phones that are placed on altars, so that people can genuflect beneath them before touching them with respectful gingerness.”

That’s a direct quote from a fascinating perspective of Mac vs. Google titled So Google now wants to be like Apple (Wait, what?). It’s written by Technically Incorrect writer Chris Matyszczyk, who spares no sucker punches on Google either: “Google is to emotional sustenance what Jessica Simpson is to opera. The company has always existed to impress–then please–engineers, with real people being a secondary market.”

But here’s where it gets interesting. Matyszczyk raises the question of whether Google wasn’t after Motorola patents as much as designing for a “free hardware” generation, which is no less plausible than a once-RIP Apple reviving digital purchases, fashionable, mainstream devices and demand so strong people were even willing to suffer AT&T to get an iPhone. Right?

“Apple needs people to pay good money for hardware. So why wouldn’t Google consider a world in which the hardware is free? Apple needs people to congregate around a very small number of designs–phones that are placed on altars, so that people can genuflect beneath them before touching them with respectful gingerness. So why wouldn’t Google march in the direction of allowing people to design their own phones, so that suddenly a Googorola phone is less the product of a brand and more an expression of the person who both created it and bought it? Aiming to be like Apple feels unimaginative, almost depressive. Inspiring real people to think that there is a world beyond Apple–one that might be even better, even more original– is something that ought to be Google’s challenge.

Hmmmm... free hardware? Sounds scary, but so did "free Microsoft" cloud-based alternatives a few years ago. Use Google documents lately?

Consider the possibility of free hardware, or even free ad-supported cellular coverage. Like me, you may imagine cheap disposable pre-paid phones (itself no stranger 5 years ago than space cars). Or you might imagine an intrusive ad thrust before each phone call, like a pre-roll before a video.

Perhaps you pride yourself on being frugal, and willing to suffer through ads for free stuff, or even defeat them with hacks. Otherwise you might find yourself willing to pay a premium for that portable brain you carry and interact with for hours upon a day.

Matyszczyk’s characterization of Google is well founded. The culture is amiable but somewhat intellectually arrogant (or as he puts even better, “Google fancies itself as having brains bigger than Mars”). Sure we all use Google, but would we pay for it? Google has loads of users, but few that pay for the products and services. Is that by design or because it’s “good but not good enough?”

The Mac vs. Google battle has always fascinated me because I like them both for different reasons. I had almost forgotten about Microsoft until I grabbed that cartoon above (although it was funny hearing my son ask about Bing last night after seeing an ad the Glee Project). Google is like a smart friend, always better at helping me find stuff. Mac is like the fun friend, almost always more intuitive, friendly and integrated. It’s easy to imagine the Mac bubble bursting, and it’s also easy to imagine a “free everything by Google” era. But in the short run, I’d expect the next 5 years to be far less black and white. We’ll make important tradeoffs based on convenience, budget and user-experience.

Why? Consider these observations:

  • We’re feisty. Blackberry has shown that establishing corporate info-tech (IT) relationships as “barriers to entry” is a non-sustainable strategy, and that ultimately even dull business people’s devices are too important to. They’ve flocked to Droid and iPhones, and the faster hardware/telcom hybrid to appease nervous IT leaders will have a non-trivial advantage (ludicrous example: I can use my iPhone and expense $20 per month to my employer, but I bought a stupid Blackberry because then almost my entire voice/data plan can be expensed).
  • There’s probably a free alternative to most things you’ve bought digitally in the past year. I believe most WVFF readers are trend-setters in this space. But sometimes “free” is too much work. Remember that cable “cord cutters” remain in the significant minority.
  • Pick Mac. Pick Google. Just keep depending on technology, and don't mind me.

    Our lives are becoming increasingly dependent on technology (thus of course preparing the machine to takeover humanity). That means that our expectations are higher, and we often value our time and experience more than an upcharge.

  • So sure the future will have free options, just like there is a lot of free television and video content available if you’re inclined to chase it down. But we’re irrational humans who dish out our money for emotional needs than wrap rational excuses around them. So as long as the humans still run the technology companies, there will still be un-free and we’ll run to them like lemmings.

I see three strategies for the whirlwind ahead: The “charge a premium and make the service and product a delight,” the “reasonably priced, and highly personalized,” and the “free and you get what you pay for.”

Google Plus to Rollout “Shoot the Tumbleweed” Game to Entice Stagnant Registrants

Karim began to visibly cry when he described the game, but then realized he still had $64 million in cash.

Of the 52.5 percent of active Internet users who have registered with Facebook-competitor Google Plus, only 7 percent have used the service, according to a fake comScore report. But Google Product Manager Jawed Karim said he was confident Google Plus was only beginning, and that his company has bold plans to increase use of the new social-media tool from an average 8 seconds a day to well over a minute.

“We are launching a “shoot the tumbleweed game,” Karim said. “Although my attorneys have advised otherwise, I’d like to describe it as a cross between those killer “shoot the monkey banners” I played as a toddler, but with all of the cute sound effects of Angry Birds,” Karim said, while holding back tears.

It won’t be enough, said Rainbow Rowell of “Only three of my friends and family have actively started to use Google Plus,” she wrote. “What good it Google Plus if only half of my six friends and family members use it?”

Google Plus "Shoot the Tumbleweed" will mix Flash animation with real photos of the West

How to Watch YouTube Video With Friends Using Google Plus

Google Plus: Now You Can Ignore Friends While Zoning on a Video

You can now use Google plus to watch a YouTube video live with friends who are remote. Thanks to SFGate and Business Insider for pointing out this new feature.

Now you and up to 9 viewers can watch a YouTube video spontaneously, and see each other via webcam. Hopefully Google Plus will boost that number, and allow for many more to join even if via text only. It’s kinda like Stickam or but there’s no need for anyone to be interesting. You just need to find a video that’s not boring. Good luck.

Here’s how:

  1. Go to Google Plus (you need an account, and here’s my Nalts profile).
  2. Click the “Share” button on any YouTube video (how about Airport Crawling?).
  3. On the right, click link that says “Start a Google Hangout.”
  4. When window launches, use commands to talk (push the green button) or just watch.
  5. I’m not sure how to invite friends, but maybe they find you from your circle jerks.
Use Google Plus' "Hang Out" tool to watch YouTube videos with friends (if you have any)



YouTube Goes Music, Music, Music

It's just like this, only the radio is a laptop, and everyone's in a different room wearing gym clothes.

YouTube has agreed to pay licensing fees with the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), which represents about 3,000 independent music publishers (LA Times). This deal is consistant with Vevo’s success, the significant percentage of music videos topping “most viewed charts” and the all-new (see promo video).

YouTube music vevo channel
YouTube "Music" Debuts: click to see promo video

YouTube, friends, is your new radio station, MTV, iTunes, Pandora, Jango, Live365. I’m Sirius.

This advances YouTube’s partnerships with music publishers to “monetize” user-generated videos that contain music written by artists represented by the NMPA. The four major labels (EMI Music Group, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment) already have separate licensing contracts with YouTube.

What’s relatively new is that these deals cover synchronization rights on behalf of songwriters. Yes, folks, this means independent musicians singing “covers” of a licensed song will be providing a percent of their ad-generated income to the owner (sorry jaaaaaaa). The terms of the royalty payments, however, are confidential. This, of course, is more than fair. Shouldn’t the guy who wrote the timeless classic, “Never Gonna Give You Up” get a chunk money from the ads that surround Rickrolls?

NMPA agreed to drop its class-action lawsuit against YouTube filed in 2007, but members of NMPA have until mid-September to decide whether they wish to opt out of the licensing agreement with YouTube or continue to pursue legal action against the video platform on their own.



Hulu’s New Owner: Google, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo?

Lots of speculation in the news about Hulu’s new owner. The Hulu peeps (Disney, NBC) opted against an IPO (initial public offering), and have an investment banker looking for a buyer.

Are we surprised that Hulu is for sale? Nope. In 2006 (give years ago) we posted that “Networks Pretend They Can Rival YouTube.” These types of things, I said, typically fail without “a STRONG intermediary is taking the lead and the individual players give authority and accountability to that player. Otherwise the interests of specific participants will almost always trump to collective goal.”

The news was dense with suggestions that Google might acquire Hulu. But despite suggestions Google and Hulu are in preliminary discussions, I’m finding that unlikely. Hulu is rumored to be trying to fetch $2 billion, which seems awfully high to me. I would suspect MSN or Yahoo would find far more interest than Google. The search giant paid less than $2 billion for YouTube ($1.65 billion), and I’m sure there is at least one tech company that would pay $2 billion simply to keep it out of Google’s hands.

What do you think?

If Facebook Was A Pair of Mormans

Imagine Facebook as a pair of potentially Morman Aussies? Would you trust them with the information you share with the website? This is a well-timed video considering the recent attempt by Facebook to smear Google for social-networking privacy issues.

Here are the folks from Burston Marsteller that were behind Facebook’s poorly executed op-ed campaign…

Meet Moe Larry and Curly: The three behind the Burston-/Marsteller Facebook campaign against Google