Ten years ago, it cost more than $300 to transfer a gigabyte of video; today it costs 30 cents. People like you upload 35 hours of video per minute on YouTube, the second largest search engine (since 2008). What is next for online video? Search, Mobile, HTML5, Social, Internet TV, 3D? Of course, at the year-end, we've seen a lot of predictions for 2011, but let's go further out.
First, where did we come from? Ignoring television and focusing on the interwebs: the first streaming media server was developed by Progressive Networks (which became Real) in 1994. I put my first video clip online in 1998. 4 people watched it.
Let's next deal with what just hit us. Why did online video explode? The big change was three-fold: the broadband tipping point, ease of distribution (YouTube), and big media put their video content online.
And these three reasons, and more, are why online video, and revenue related to it, will continue to grow globally at 25%-45% per year for the next decade.
Think of the way you visually search when you look for your keys. Now think about how you search for a very specific video online today. Video search sucks because it's a very hard thing to do. It will get a lot better in the next decade, the publishers will play a part in this (via temporal meta-tagging and other embedded data, etc.), and video SEO will be very important.
Here's a few fun facts for you: there are more mobile phones in the world today than cars and credit cards combined -- and most mobile users have never had a PC, ever. More of these devices will functionally integrate video: think contextual how-to videos, location aware product placement in video streetviews, videoconferencing, better cameras, higher speed access and more memory.
YouTube Still Dominates, But Less and Less
I agree with Brightroll's CEO Tod Sacerdoti that at least one other online video publisher will achieve 100 million unique users per month soon. In any medium with a big market, competition happens. Facebook, if they ever get their video strategy together, should be big here, as will Hulu and Netflix.
As David Slater of Flixlab puts it: "Basic commenting, metadata, and tagging of entire video clips provide rudimentary social capabilities, but new enabling technologies are required to make video truly a shared experience." This will happen really, really soon. Flickr crushed it because they very simply integrated social into photos in 2004. Think about how Facebook makes photos social. Now think video. Ok good, you got it.
HTML5 will be the way most online and mobile video is delivered in a few years. Several companies will be built from scratch and the standard will blossom to support how that might happen, solving the issues that exist today: security, DRM, etc. As Christian Kaiser, VP of Engineering at Netflix, puts in a very candid blog post, "as of today, there is no accepted standard for advanced streaming through the [HTML5] [video] tag." There will be.
What's Not Happening Anytime Soon?
Hate to be the naysayer, but widespread 3D online video is still a decade away, other than in games. If you are doing everything in CG it's pretty easy to do it in stereo, and the console makers want to sell you 3D glasses.
And how many people do you know watch TV and say "Hey I'd sure like the internet on there" ? To create mainstream desire, Producers, who don't get tech, will have to make interactivity and data part of the shows. This will take a long time, but it will happen and it will be big.
Dollars Make Sense
Since more eyeballs will be spending more time engaged with online videos, subscription and especially advertising dollars will continue to flock there.
A great market encourages innovation. There will be surprises. Enjoy the show!