Online Video

New tools are helping video become part of the fabric of the Web.

Viewing of online video more than doubled during 2009: the number of videos watched rose from approximately 15 billion in January to more than 33 billion in December. At the same time, the tail of the phenomenon grew longer. The top 10 video sites accounted for more than 56 percent of online views at the beginning of 2009, but by the end of the year, they accounted for only 52 percent. Smaller news and media sites, social networks, university sites, corporate sites, and, most recently, e-commerce sites have all been supplementing their offerings with video.

At Kaltura, a provider of an open-source video platform, we’ve seen a massive increase in demand for online video solutions among universities and organizations, which made up 3 percent of our customer base at the beginning of 2009 but accounted for more than 20 percent of new customers at the beginning of 2010. Universities use videos in distance learning and online course work. Companies use video for employee training and knowledge sharing, and also for corporate and product marketing. Governments use video as yet another channel for communication. And e-commerce sites, such as Zappos, have recently found that video offers even better conversion rates than still images.

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Once upon a time, you could only sit back and watch the videos. Now you can search videos, trim them, annotate them, remix them, and send them to friends. These new possibilities are bringing video to a broader range of users. And this broader use is driving the development of new tools to specialize video for different users. Universities, for example, are looking for ways to search video libraries and archives. Many users need tools that make video as easy to edit as text, or ways to sync video with documents and PowerPoint presentations. Wikipedia, which only recently incorporated video into its strategy, will lead this market with fully collaborative video, featuring tools for video manipulation and search. Publishers want to have a dialogue with their audience, and sometimes even to crowdsource production efforts. News sites want to spread citizen journalists’ hottest video news. E-commerce sites want video as a medium for selling products and as a way for customers to review their purchases.

Online video seems to have been here for a long time, but it has actually been widely available only for the past five years or so. For sure, it will get better, faster, and easier to use, and it will continue to extend its reach (see “TR10: Social TV” ).

Michal Tsur is president and cofounder of Kaltura.

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