Internet video: 10 years in the making of a "sudden" phenomenon

[Keyword: ]. Ben Compaine does some crystal ball-gazing and predicts “This year may be the year that online video is recognized as a real business”…

“What’s some of the evidence? First the new-guy players:

— YouTube, one of the latest “new kids, rocketed from 3 million video streams per
day to 25 million from Jan. 1 to Feb 28.

— Apple’s iTunes is reporting downloads at the rate of about 3 million per month. Some are free, some are paid for.

NarrowStep, a company in the U.K. that provides technology and support for specialized Webcasts, says it is adding two to three new channels per week. Unlike the mostly amateur clips uploaded to YouTube and similar, NarrowStep is being used to create “slivercast” channels that are intended to be businesses. One client,, says it attracted 70,000 viewers in its first month. (payment required for

— The Roo Group hosts or consults for 100 Internetcast TV sites which show 40
million videos a month
. One client is YuksTV, which claims as many as many as 200,000 visitors in a month.

— One of the “old-times” among the new players is Atomfilms, a home for budding

— Then there is Google, big and wealthy but still a new player in video. Google provides access to everything from archived NBAAll-Star games for $3.95 to “Twilight Zone” classics for $1.99 to many free – and often worth as much— classic clips such as the 49 second “Benito scooping up after his dog.”

— Last year the site of Major League Baseball,, generated $68 million in subscriptions from viewers of 2,400 baseball games.

The traditional media companies have gotten the message:

— The uber-Establishment Time-Warner’s CNN has been flogging Pipeline, a service that combines real time CNN feed with access to its video archive. It has the confidence to seek $25 annually—less than a subscription to Time.

— CBS offered the NCAA’s March Madness basketball games on an advertiser-supported basis and had 5 million takers. Much of the pay-for material on Google Video is both current (e.g., “Survivor”) and historical (e.g., “Brady Bunch”) from

— The prospects of a new revenue stream have driven Disney, which owns ABC, to agree with NBC Universal to provide “Scrubs”, which the former produces and the latter broadcasts, for sale on Apples iTunes. The significance of this is that it is the first time rival broadcasters have “joined together in a digital download deal.””

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