Interesting moves in the online video market as YouTube announced "a major upgrade of its Web site" last Friday, just a day after Yahoo announced its own video upgrade. Both have introduced a channels feature - similar to tv channels, or so they like to claim. Yahoo's June 1 press release was entitled: 'Yahoo makes Web video search more like TV channels'. The very next day YouTube announced its own channel feature, enabling users "to subscribe to channels that focus on the latest work of favorite artists or topical themes."
In the Yahoo Video site, a channel is defined as:
"A channel is a series of videos from the same source or user. If you like a channel you can add it to your Favorites page."
Here's what a Yahoo Video channel looks like:
And here's an example of a YouTube channel:
Yahoo's channels have all the usual 'user-generated content' features - ratings, tags, subscribe buttons, review. To set up a video channel, you click on 'My Studio'. It's all pretty slick and has a 'professional' feel to it.
YouTube's channels seem a lot more social - and blog-like. You can view subscribers, connect with them, leave comments in channels, send messages, add the channel owner as a friend, etc. All the features you'd find on MySpace or another social network.
The channels I found on YouTube were predominantly of individuals, whereas on Yahoo I mostly found channels by entities such as website brands (or maybe I just didn't look hard enough). So I do get the sense that YouTube's channels are much more of a personal thing for YouTube users, whereas Yahoo is pitching their channels more like... well, more like a tv channel. But that distinction makes this quote from the YouTube press release seem kind of odd:
"YouTube said that it aims to move beyond depending on the latest hit videos, which spread like wild fire across the Internet via e-mail. Instead, it wants to create a personalized programming experience akin to TV viewers surfing channels with a remote control."
The "personalized programming experience" I can dig, but why compare that to tv channel surfing with a remote control? Ugh! I don't like this comparison to broadcast tv and I'm not sure why YouTube is going down that track, when they're promoting what is essentially a video social network. What's social about sitting on a couch and tv channel surfing?
Other than that, I like YouTube's more SNS approach. It'll be interesting to track YouTube and Yahoo as they each pursue online video channels in slightly different ways.