Video Distribution Trending Towards Centralization

It’s been interesting to watch and participate in the ebb and flow of the online video space. One unique trend that I have noticed recently is that the “be everywhere” motto with your video has not so much changed but the technical means for being everywhere has.

In the recent past, the video tool TubeMogul was a good idea. They do the heavy lifting of re-distribution; you can create an account on TubeMogul, upload your video, and then TubeMogul will upload your one master to over 25 video account destinations around the web including YouTube Vimeo, Blip, Metacafe, DailyMotion, Yahoo, Revver, Veoh, StupidVideos, etc. and then track the videos.

When TubeMugul first came out, it was great because it filled a hole in the marketplace for publishers who found themselves spending a lot of time trying to get their videos to all of these destinations with the hope of finding audiences anywhere.

It was worth the effort, I think, to be everywhere but one problem with this means of distribution is that it creates so many copies of the same thing which is itself a technically sloppy and irresponsible method of doing anything. A more elegant solution is to be everywhere with referents to just one copy, the benefit of the “embed”. Embeddable videos can appear be all over the web when they’re really just pointers to one location.

And now, the online video distribution space seems to be swinging right back in this direction to fewer and fewer distribution sources because the audiences are consolidating into fewer places. It’s becoming more and more counterproductive to distribute to 25 different open platforms due to diluting your audience, losing control over your ad revenue, spending time with the day-to-day efforts needed to nurture each one, to name but a few issues…primarily, because the audiences have faded away from many places that were once more active.

A common trend with publishers today is to publish to only one or two open locations. Most people obviously upload to YouTube and then many like to add an RSS feed with quicktime files for iTunes, which also serves as a plausible option for many other local-players as well. Many also find that other, unique destination that perfectly fits their audience but may not be suited for many others.

Along with this, for the good I think, is a trend with reverting back to the pre-social network days of placing an emphasis on your own domain dot com. The NYTimes and CNN for example have been putting more development into their own on-site and single-point of distribution strategies. So have smaller content creators who got big just on YouTube or iTunes. They enjoy being everywhere by embeds and feeds and continue to dabble with alternative distribution points, though drastically fewer than a couple of years ago. This centralizing trend has always seemed inevitable for preserving as much of the revenue share as possible. If you are wheeling and dealing with 25 public facing websites like Metacafe and Dailymotion and YouTube and Blip and Viddler and iTunes and so on, all doing different ad deals, you are probably undermining yourself, the marketplace and especially your own audience.

In other words, worldwide distribution is growing and video is becoming more available in more places (through embeds, links, tweets, referrers) but the number of places one needs to actually push distribution to, and the number of file types one needs to create appears to be drastically diminishing.