For an industry that essentially began five years ago, the online video sector has grown up quickly.
Online video platforms (OVP) are the software based services which allow for the management and implementation of videos onto a website. Today's renditions are sophisticated, personable and plentiful. Recent research from Strategy Analytics says the OVP industry is already worth more than $200 million. By 2015, it will be worth $1 billion.
The online video platform industry is benefiting from the explosive growth in online video users, Jia Wu, Analyst at Strategy Analytics, said. More than half of the US population already watches online video on a regular basis. This industry is set for continued rapid growth in the coming years.
Furthermore, online videos can no longer be divided into YouTube and everyone else. The industry's growth has led to the creation of several up-and-coming OVP players. More than ever, content creators have options when it comes time to put videos on the web.
The OVP space has seen tremendous growth in the past 24 months with several variations of what is considered today to be an 'Online Video Platform,' said Kristopher Drey, who runs VidCompare.com, an independent website which tracks and compares OVPs. We track 84 companies today that provide, at a minimum: upload, encode, management, analytics, and playback of online video.
One such company is Twistage, a high-end video and rich media platform, which caters to an enterprise crowd. Unlike many in the industry, Twistage allows its clients a certain deal of flexibility. Whereas most OVPs require customers to use their own players, Twistage offers its own product and the ability to use a third-party or homebrewed player.
We view all of our components of a rich media ecosystem like legos. We can snap those legos any way you want, David Wadler, CEO of Twistage, said. Along with flexible video players, the company also allows content creators to install their own ad server and networks or use Twistage's prebuilt one.
This kind of flexibility has helped Twistage get ahead in the industry. The company is constantly ranked as one of the best OVPs by VidCompare.com. It has also attracted customers such as Jive Software, which uses Twistage's video platform for its own software.
We don't really play by the rules, Wadler says. We're dorks who write good code and are selling on our own behalf. We look at the fundamental elements of online video and we're the glue that holds those elements together.
Another company fighting for share in the growing industry is Dovie. Similar to Twistage, Dovie offers its customers a flexible OVP. In Dovie's case, flexibility means customized video channels and advertising networks. J.R. Storment, Dovie's founder and chief operating officer, says the company's platform caters to small media companies and nonprofits looking for an extensive yet budget friendly video service.
Historically, they've had two options. YouTube, which is great for a lot of users but doesn't offer the tools an organization might be looking for. Tools like the ability to put their own branding or logo on the video, their own advertising or the ability to make a playlist or channel on their site. On the other side are enterprise-based OVPs, which have a lot of great offerings, but are out the price range for those small organizations, Storment said.
To provide this middle ground, Dovie uses a simplified, cloud based server. Since all videos used on it are connected to the Dovie cloud, any changes made within the platform are automatically updated wherever the video is embedded. Storment says Dovie's OVP requires little technical knowledge.
All you need to do is create a whole station and then it's copy and paste a code. Once you've been there, you can later use the controls to update branding, advertising or add a video channel. All you need is that one piece of code, he said.
Yet despite the efforts of Dovie and the industry's overall growth, the public perception that YouTube is the best way to put videos on the web has not completely died out. Drey said this thinking comes from a limited viewpoint or an uneducated user. However, he does not say YouTube should be completely ignored.
I always encourage publishers to take a two-pronged approach with their video content. Invest in an OVP that will offer you high-quality video playback, a robust content management system, deep analytics and multiple monetization offerings to best manage your content as well as utilize YouTube for its massive syndication and reach. YouTube is very useful for discoverability on the net especially in Google, Drey said.
YouTube did not respond to an inquiry for comment. In the past year, the company has attempted to make it a more worthy destination for media based videos. In July, it began testing a news video feed service for journalists, which the company said would eventually be a source for breaking news.
Regardless of the platform provider, one thing is clear: the industry has come a long way since its beginning.
When I started doing this in 2004, I couldn't raise a dime for an online video platform, Wadler said. One venture capitalist told me online video is dead.