Written by Emre Sokullu and edited by Richard MacManus

There are now so many companies vying to be the next YouTube, it's easy to lose track of them all. So let's take a look at the entire online video industry and categorize the major players. Our thanks to Ali Dagli of Savvian, for providing us a lot of the useful data listed here. 

In this post we've summarized the latest video industry innovations under the following categories:

  • Video Sharing
  • Intermediaries
  • Video Search
  • Video eCommerce
  • Video Editing & Creation
  • Rich Media Advertising
  • P2P (Peer To Peer)
  • Video Streaming
  • Vlogosphere

Video Sharing

Video sharing - and particularly YouTube - have been the poster boys of the online video industry so far. Video sharing sites allow you to upload your videos and share them with others. But even if you are not a content producer, you can watch others movies. So this is a very consumer-oriented industry that has been popularized via blog-based viral marketing.

  • YouTube - Like other Sequoia Capital investments Yahoo and Google, YouTube outperformed its competitors and has become a clear winner in video sharing. And Google didn't skip this opportunity in the online video space, as it took advantage of YouTube's legal hassles and snapped up the market leader for the relatively small sum(!) of $1.65B. Even though Google already had its own video sharing site, Google Video, this acquisition showed Google's ambitions in the online video space.
  • Yahoo Video remains well behind Google Video and YouTube. Also Yahoo Video does not support as many video formats as the others do. For example, you cannot upload your videos directly from your mobile, because this format is not supported yet. Yahoo is trying to increase Yahoo Video usage by making it a part of their other well established properties. For instance, you can see Yahoo Video stories on their homepage.
  • SoapBox is Microsoft's answer to the latest developments in the video sharing industry. It is in invitation only beta status for now, but will probably go live very soon. It is expected to be a crucial part of Microsoft's new Live.com initiative, although the site is currently under the MSN domain.
  • Grouper was snapped up by Sony for $60M and is expected to be integrated with Sony's future digital cameras.
  • PhotoBucket - a crucial component of most social networking sites and the number one photo sharing site, did not miss the big opportunity in online video space and has a video component too.
  • Webshots - like PhotoBucket, photo sharing site Webshots (a CNET property) has also caught the online video wave.
  • Ning - Netscape founder Marc Andreesen's latest venture recently turned its focus onto video features and in some sense became a player in the online video sharing space as well.
  • iFilm was acquired by Viacom, the owner of MTV Networks, in October 2005. The site claims to get more than 10 million visitors per month.
  • MetaCafe - Israel based company is estimated to be the second biggest player in this space after YouTube. The company does not limit itself to its home country and has big international ambitions. It was recently rumoured to be acquired by Yahoo for $200M. The company is backed by top tier VC companies like Benchmark Capital and Accel Partners. MetaCafe does not have a time limitation like YouTube, and offers a rich desktop client for easy uploading. Their unique revenue sharing program was a great innovation in this space.
  • DailyMotion - The number one video sharing site in France is also a key player in the global arena. Allows 150MB of video upload and has a larger default video size.
  • GoFish - Publicly traded company is worth $126M as of this writing. Its popularity is well below others though.
  • Dave.tv - The site wants you to program your own channel with your favourite movies, music and clips, then broadcast it from your web page, blog or MySpace. This is a well thought through viral marketing tactic, but the site's traffic seems low at this time.

Some of the upcomers in video sharing are: Vimeo, VideoJug, Kewego, China's Yoqoo, Revver,Veoh, iBloks, VidiLife, Blip.TV, VodPod, Fliqz.


Image from Go2Web20.net

Intermediaries

Do you think you can legally host your commercial videos on YouTube or MetaCafe? The short answer is no. For professional use, you'll need to contact intermediary companies to do this job for you. Their main duty is to connect publishers, video creators and advertisers.

  • BrightCove connects video creators with web publishers. This is a huge company that raised ~ $60M from investors including New York Times in their latest round of financing. Their syndication marketplace consists of 1319 channels as of this writing.
  • NBBC - powered by NBC, connects businesses that create video with businesses that want video, in other words a video marketplace. Note: the logo can mislead you and take you to a porn site; onbbc.com. Be careful, and I humbly recommend that NBBC switch to another logo!
  • VideoEgg - Connecticut based company empowers the video publishing of big consumers like TED events, Bebo, Hi5 and America Online. Raised $12M in Series C from August Capital and Josh Kopelman's First Round Capital.
  • Roo.TV is yet another big player in the video intermediaries field. They are traded in NASDAQ (RGRP) and their market value is $90M as of this writing. Some of their partners are Pioneer, Verizon, Warner Bros.
  • Maven Networks partners include 20th Century, The Weather Channel, TimeOut New York, Walt Disney, Nike, and Sony Pictures. Accel Partners and General Catalyst Partners invested $10M in this company in 2004.
  • NarrowStep is traded in OTC and currently has a market valuation of $41M. Partners include Land Rover.
  • Gotuit Media has deals to power video content from EMI Music, UMG, Major League Soccer, and others. They also do video editing and creation (SceneMaker) and video sharing. We've covered Gotuit before on R/WW.

Other players include thePlatform and The FeedRoom, which empowers top companies like HP, Wal-Mart, Sun, USA Today.

Video Search

  • Google Video - after the acquisition of YouTube, Google now focuses its Google Video property on video search. This is a smart strategy, because the Google brand largely means search. YouTube was already the number one video sharing site and Google Video has exclusive access to all YouTube and Google Video data - which makes Google Video search much superior to others.
  • AOL Video Search is a successful video search service from AOL. AOL had this capability after acquiring the successful startup Truveo in early 2006.
  • blinkx differs itself from the crowd with its innovative interface, which shows a preview of videos in the search results. They also get satisfactory results from a variety of sites.
  • Pixsy is a successful, independent video search startup. It returned satisfactory results in our test queries.
  • Mamma - the site claims to provide lots of search options, but their focus is video. In our tests it was satisfactory.
  • ClipBlast claims to have the largest online video collection, but the results don't back this up.
  • TV Eyes is different, because it crawls not video sharing sites like YouTube - but real TV channels.

Video eCommerce

Video eCommerce sites allow you to legally stream the latest cinema movies and TV shows from your computer.

  • Guba was one of the first to enter this market, being founded in 1998. They are not only a video eCommerce site, but have free offerings and also a video sharing component. But video sharing on Guba is very small compared to video eCommerce. One of Guba's co-founders left the company after the YouTube acquisition and said in an interview that YouTube won the big prize - and there will be no more big prizes in the industry!
  • Amazon Unbox can be easily described as the iTunes of videos. Unbox allows you to preview and buy a wide selection of TV shows and movies for very low prices, starting from $1.99. The videos can be watched via an exclusive client app from Amazon.
  • MovieFlix offers videos in Real format. They offer 2 membership programs: free and premium. Besides the freely accessible videos, you can pay a monthly fee of $7.99 and access their 4000 titles - the quality is arguable though.
  • Vongo - if you are not a US resident, don't even try visiting their site. Well, you can use proxy servers, but Vongo has strict access restrictions - not only limited by browser and OS types, but also your location. The service works in USA only and they are known for their TV spots. The service requires you to install a client, then you pay $9.99 per month to get access to an unlimited number of movies.
  • MovieBeam is yet another video sharing site. It is pay per watch based and the prices start from $1.99.

This is another crowded market. Other players include MovieLink, CinemaNow, MarketBeam and the video eCommerce offerings of bigcos like Apple, Real and WalMart. Also, the Venice Project (Joost) from the Skype founders is targeting this market. Check out a recent Techcrunch comparison to review some of companies mentioned under this category.

Video Creation & Editing

You have videos, but how do you edit them? Are you willing to stick with desktop apps and pay hundreds of dollars in license fees? The Web is the answer again. The following sites are generally known to be good companions to video sharing sites.

  • JumpCut - this video editing site was acquired by Yahoo right after it got to its public beta status. It is expected to be embedded into Yahoo Video. This will bring a clear editing advantage to Yahoo over the others. Yahoo is currently far behind Google in the video space overall, so they should hurry up and integrate JumpCut!
  • EyeSpot - was invested in by Michael Robertson of mp3.com and Yahoo's JumpCut acquisition increases our expectations for this company to get bought by Google. The mix system would also be handy for MySpace's core user group, musicians who shoot their clip and then remix it to publish on their MySpace page. So News Corp is another potential acquirer.
  • Lycos Mix - no, Lycos is not dead. Lycos Mix, along with Lycos Cinema, is designed to take Lycos to the next level in the online video space.
  • Dabble - It's not exactly video editing, but playlist making with other videos fetched from video sharing sites.
  • Mojiti - China based company was covered recently by Read/WriteWeb. It allows you to add notations to your videos. Mojiti is also a video sharing site targeting the Chinese market.

Other players include, but not limited to, MovieMasher, MotionBox, Canopus and Avid.

Rich Media Advertising

Another hot area is rich media advertising. This is the field that will pump blood (=money) to all other services. Rich Media Advertising can consist of advanced computer science techniques like voice recognition (speech to text) and visual object recognition. We will just list the names, as most of them are very early stage. 

Google and AdBrite are the major players. aQuantive (a $2B company traded at NASDAQ), KlipMart, PostRoller, eyeWonder, eyeBlaster, DoubleClick, adInterax (acquired by Yahoo! last year), padaddies, pointroll are other players.

P2P

Peer to peer is taking an important place in video sharing. Video sharing requires large bandwidth, which is why the burn rate of these sites is very high and only the VC backed ones survive. P2P is an answer to this problem, by spreading the bandwidth weight to clients using this system. There have been some recent large investments in companies working in this field.

  • BitTorrent - Creators of the popular open source P2P file sharing protocol do not own the protocol itself, but own one of the most popular clients and a search site. They recently got $20M funding from top tier firms like Accel Partners and acquired another popular bittorrent client µTorrent.
  • Azureus - Creators of the Java based popular open source bittorrent client, Azureus is now entering the web space with Zudeo. They recently closed a $12M Series B investment from RedPoint Ventures and BV Capital.
  • Kontiki is a VeriSign company.

Video Streaming

So who do you think serves you all these videos? Video hosting is not an easy job!

  • Akamai is known as the world leader and serves big customers including Microsoft, Google and Yahoo. The company is traded on NASDAQ and has a market cap of $9B.
  • Limelight Networks is the site that powers YouTube, MySpace, iFilm and many others. They are growing fast and their last investment round was $130M, led by Goldman Sachs.
  • VitalStream was bought by Internap in 2006 for $217M.

Others include Savvis and RawFlow

Vlog-o-sphere

Blogs and photologs have already taken over many peoples lives - being an excellent way to share, communicate and self-express. And now with the commodization of digital cameras, comes the vlogs - a.k.a. video blogs.. They are either for fun or self expression, but a big industry can blossom here - there are a lot of opportunities. Tomorrows vlogs, for example, are candidates to replace your favourite daily TV shows. And popular vlogs don't just attract ads, but they also hold the potential to sign partnership deals with video sharing sites. Examples:

  • Ask A Ninja - this surprise hit recently become a member of Federated Media, John Battelle's directory of popular blogs.
  • Rocketboom is the best example of how far vlogs can go. This vlog is dedicated to reporting the latest developments in internet culture, in an original and entertaining way. It looks so professional that you may not able to differentiate it from TV shows you watch.

Conclusion

The list is certainly not complete. And this categorization is subject to change, for example with upcoming stealth mode startups. The innovation and opportunities in the online video industry are endless. Please help us take this list to the next level, by noting other companies you know of in the comments.