Yahoo May Clone YouTube, For All The Good It Would Do

Yahoo is one of the few companies that can compete with Google in the realm of search—theoretically, at least. Now, the company reportedly plans to challenge Google in another area it dominates: user-generated videos.

Yahoo will reportedly launch its own YouTube clone within the next few months at an attempt to lure away content creators from the Google-owned video platform. According to the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo is exploring the purchase of video-syndication service News Distribution Network for about $300 million to help make its YouTube clone a reality.

But how exactly does Yahoo plan on stealing away YouTube’s video creators? Easy: It will appeal to those that rely on their videos for income, and pay them better.

According to Recode, Yahoo will take advantage of “persistent complaints by both video creators and owners who think that they don’t make enough money on YouTube,” either by improving ad revenue or guaranteeing ad rates for user-uploaded videos. Yahoo will even reportedly allow video producers to sell ads through Yahoo.

Could YahooTube Work?

Subjecting Google’s 800-pound video gorilla to new competition would be good for creators and viewers alike. But saying “we’re going to beat YouTube” and actually doing it are two completely different things.

To some extent, YouTube lives by the Pareto principle: Though there are billions of hours of videos on the site—with 100 hours of footage uploaded every minute—roughly 80% of YouTube’s success comes from 20% of its clients. Those are the viral videos, the “stars” and the popular networks doing the heavy lifting.

Now, Yahoo wants to tap into YouTube’s 20%, reach out to those prominent stars and networks, and offer them a better, more profitable life. Only problem is, Yahoo has its own a reputation as a destroyer of sorts.

See also: Yahoo: Destroyer Of Startups

Though Yahoo has spent a lot of money with little to show for it, cherry-picking YouTube stars could provide more worthwhile gains.

Yahoo has a few things going for it, including search traffic; last summer, it even surpassed Google in desktop Web traffic for a brief time. In convincing content creators to join its YouTube clone, Yahoo is leveraging its reputation in search as an extra means to promote videos on a non-exclusive basis, which could be attractive to those video owners looking to get more money—and let’s face it, who on YouTube isn’t looking to get more money?

Paying content creators is the right idea, but what remains to be seen is if people will actually care about whatever Yahoo comes up with.

Since ex-Googler Marissa Mayer took over as Yahoo’s CEO almost two years ago, the company has become much more like Google—spending money on all sorts of projects—but hasn’t done much to really revitalize its business beyond its decision to sell 40% of its stock in Alibaba Group. That alone, as Recode points out, “could easily pay the costs of mounting a challenge to Google.”

But what Google has pulled off—which Yahoo hasn’t—is integration of its various popular services. Yahoo has many different services, and is increasingly infusing them with a mobile aspect, but very few of them are particularly popular. Yahoo might have the right idea by appealing to those many people disgruntled with YouTube—for one reason or another—but it still needs to prove that it can attract people where it needs to.

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