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YouTube as a Platform

Platform is all the rage. Facebook is a platform — meaning, you can develop your own applications on top of their functionality. YouTube is now a platform. What this means is that you can do more embedding YouTube into your site, allowing people to upload video to your YouTube channel from your site and having people leave comments on your site that will end up in your YouTube comments. What this does not do it give you a white label service like Brightcove. You will still have the YouTube watermark and still be part of the YouTube community. So if you are committed to YouTube as an organization you could create landing pages that encourage your constituents to comment on your site, making the video more valuable back within the YouTube community (because comments are an indication to search of relevance).

Here’s the details from TechCrunch:

In case there was still any doubt that Google wants to use YouTube to host all the video on the Web, it’s announcement earlier today to broaden its APIs makes it clear that is its goal. Once again, instead of making it easier to search videos elsewhere, Google is making it easier to host videos on YouTube. Except that the new APis allow people to upload, watch, search, and comment on the videos on other Websites. The key here is that the videos themselves are hosted on Youtube’s servers. This brings Google back full circle to the initial strategy for Google Video, which originally required videos to be uploaded directly to Google in order to become indexed. YouTube is gradually replacing Google Video—that is where most people upload videos anyway—but getting as much video from the rest of the Web onto its servers allows it to do many more things with it than if it simply indexed the videos elsewhere. It can search them better and throw up ads against them.

Specifically, the new APIs allow Web developers to:

* Upload videos and video responses to YouTube
* Add/Edit user and video metadata (titles, descriptions, ratings, comments, favorites, contacts, etc)
* Fetch localized standard feeds (most viewed, top rated, etc.) for 18 international locales
* Perform custom queries optimized for 18 international locales
* Customize player UI and control video playback (pause, play, stop, etc.) through software

YouTube is not just white-labeling its video-hosting infrastructure for other sites, devices, and desktop applications. It is offering video-hosting for free. This could prove highly disruptive to other video-hosting platforms such as Brightcove, Maven Networks (now part of Yahoo), and Move Networks. Partners already using the APIs include Animoto, Casio, Electronic Arts, Helio, KickApps, Slide, and TiVo. Yes, you can now watch YouTube on TiVo.

Of course, it is not exactly free. The videos will also be available on YouTube, where Google will make money from any associated ads. It is not clear how the ad revenue will be split, or even if it will be. There is nothing in the API that allows for a Website to insert their own ads. So that is a big question mark. (More on that after I speak with a YouTube exec later in today).

Update: YouTube product manager Jim Patterson confirms that there is no revenue-sharing built into the API, although he also points out that the API is open to YouTube Partners, who do share in the advertising dollars. He says:

“We are not introducing any fundamentally new way to monetize. Any video that is uploaded through our API is treated exactly as on In general if a video is uploaded to YouTube, in some cases we serve ads into that on When people embed those we reserve rights to serve ads in the future.

It is not a white-label service. We do offer a hosting service, but it is not a direct alternative to the companies that you mention. There are some big differences. It is a YouTube-branded experience. It is free. The price you pay for using it is you must participate in the YouTube community.”

In other words, YouTube feels that for the most part it is enough to direct traffic to third-party sites and let them tap into YouTube’s huge audience.

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