Down the Mainstream, into the Ocean; Video Sharing

12월 10, 2007

The online video sharing market has exploded. TopTubes.net, a YouTube clone rating site, has 133 video sharing sites registered. There’s RuTube.ru, a Russian YouTube clone; GodTube.com, a Christian-oriented YouTube clone; and helpfulvideo.com, a place to share your knowledge and skills. There are video sites customized for geographical areas such as Southeast Asia, Germany, and Australia. There are sites that allow users to sell videos, sites that give them away for free, and sites that define themselves as a “stake holding, socio-communal, anarcho-capitalist, sharecropping, fair-trade, collectivist syndicate.” There’s a video blogging site called ViddYou.com. There are a ton of porn video sharing sites as well.
There are already defunct video sharing sites. Supporttube.com, which was supposed to show videos of helpful technical support from the obvious to the obscure, like how to set up a router or how to tune guitar strings, no longer responds to HTTP requests. An reported Indian video sharing hub meravideo.com also doesn’t respond any more, if it ever did. Tagworld.com, a video sharing site that was geared towards music video enthusiasts, has been shut down by its development team who are now focusing on flux.com, a social tools and social metrics service. Vid.cx, described in some blog comments as a new video sharing site, doesn’t even respond to ping anymore. The stench of web site death is in the air.

Niche sites
To be successful in the now-incredibly cutthroat video sharing business, companies have to occupy or create new niches. Most of the video sites currently working are covering the geographical or lingual niches, and some are built around specific types of content. The easiest one to find is Stupidvideos.com, which describes itself as “a viral video website dedicated to humorous, off-the-wall videos, including wild stunts, wacky animals, sports bloopers, funny commercials, song and dance parodies and more.” The videos are divided into several categories: Just Plain Stupid, Stunts/Crashes, Sports, Animals, Commercials, Song/Dance, Standup Comedy, Sketch Comedy, Webcams, Science & Technology, Politics, Holidays, and Video Games. You can see shopping cart tricks, people setting themselves on fire accidently, snowboarders running into people, guy slipping off of a diving board, fathers throwing their children face-first into the ground, and people drunkenly riding their bikes into walls.
Stupidvideos.com did not invent extreme entertainment, however. This web site follows in the footsteps of TV shows such as Jackass and Fear Factor.
From Wikipedia, on Jackass:
“Jackass is an American television series, originally shown on MTV from 2000 to 2002, featuring people performing various dangerous, ridiculous, and self-injuring stunts and pranks, with humour that could be described as a modern-day combination of the Three Stooges and a physical manifestation of Groucho Marx’s innuendos. The show served as a launchpad for the television and acting careers of Johnny Knoxville and Bam Margera. Since 2002, two Jackass theatrical films have been produced and released by MTV corporate sibling Paramount Pictures, continuing the franchise after its run on television. It is one of MTV’s most popular shows ever and sparked several spin-offs including Viva La Bam, Wildboyz, Homewrecker, Dr. Steve-O, and Blastazoid.”
The first Jackass movie, released in 2002 and called Jackass: the Movie, grossed US$79.4 million worldwide. The second movie, released in 2006, grossed US$84 million worldwide. There is a Jackass video game for PS2, PSP, and Nintendo DS out now, and a third Jackass movie in the works for 2008. The Jackass market is good for MTV.
There are 7 videos on Youtube regarding Jackass that have over 1 million views. The highest has 4 million views.
Fear Factor is also good solid entertainment. From Wikipedia:
“Fear Factor is an American stunt/dare reality show. It was originally created by Endemol Netherlands and first aired on June 11, 2001. The show pits contestants against each other to complete a series of stunts better and/or quicker than all the other contestants for a grand prize of US$50,000. From Seasons One to Five, the contestants were generally three men and three women, all playing for themselves, but in Season Six, the show moved to a permanent format of four teams of two people, each with a pre-existing relationship with one another, all playing for a shared prize of the same amount.”
Fear Factor has featured people doing amazing, disgusting, and truly impressive students to win money. From simple things like jumping from one building’s roof to the next, to eating cockroaches, to escaping from an underwater sinking aircraft, the contestants are pushed to the limit each episode. Notable Fear Factor episodes were the Naked episode, where contestants had to strip naked and parade on a fashion runway for three minutes in front of over 100 people while photographers took pictures. There was also a Gross episode, where contestants had to eat cockroaches, get in close with a strange animal, and bob for rings in 50 gallons of cow blood.

A niche left unfilled?
There is a niche that seems to be available in the online video sharing market. If you would imagine a line from normal, family friendly to extreme, YouTube would be on the family-friendly end of the line. StupidVideos, while pushing the envelope a little bit, still maintains a TV-esque self-censored feel to its content. An enterprising video sharing site could go further than stupidvideos.com and become a repository for videos that YouTube and StupidVideos won’t touch. There is a demand for videos like that, and they tend to be traded among friends and shown to people despite not being hosted on popular video sharing sites. There are definitely not enough videos of people eating cockroaches on the Internet yet.
The site could focus on videos that really shock or disgust. Stunt videos must go horribly wrong with a huge crash at the end. Vomit-inducing things that your grandmother wouldn’t watch could be on the front page. It could be a site that gets people fired from work and ends marriages.

The problem
There is a problem, though, and that is the videos that both YouTube and StupidVideos won’t touch are pretty vile, and actually illegal in some countries. Actively hosting these ‘underground videos’ could be somewhat problematic. The most recent example is a video mentioned on several blogs called “2 girls 1 cup” which involves two otherwise attractive women shitting into a cup and then eating it together. One of the women reportedly vomits before the end of the video and then eats that as well. I actually stopped watching that one without finishing it because, sadly enough, I had seen something like it in the past, no thanks to the Japanese.
Other somewhat well-known, and frequently deleted, Internet videos involve people killing animals by burning them alive or stabbing them. There are also videos of accidents where people are actually killed on camera. Finally, there is the BME Pain Olympics, a legendary compilation video which people made doing painful things to compete in a contest called the BME Pain Olympics. I think the winner cut off his own penis on camera, but I haven’t seen that one yet either.

So the problem is that this web site would be attracting these kinds of videos, and the legal attention that they bring. Of course, it would also attract media and user attention, which are good things. I would recommend hosting it on Christmas Island.


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