Several years ago, when Suranga Chandratillake co-founded Blinkx, he talked about the importance of a search engine for video.
Well, it was certainly something “before its time” and he had difficulty finding people willing to listen.
This is not the case any more. Take a look at YouTube.com. Founded on February 14, 2005, the company is now the dominant player in online video. In fact, this week, the company is now garnering more than 100 million video views per day. Even biggies like Yahoo, Google and Microsoft are laggards in the space when compared to YouTube.com.
The drivers: digital cameras are cheap and bandwidth is cheap. Besides, YouTube.com has been brilliant in terms of creating a viral application (making it easy to share the videos). And, YouTube.com allows anyone to post videos, which has resulted in a stunning growth rate (about 65,000 videos are uploaded daily).
Of course, venture capital is flooding into the video space. Some recent fundings include Veoh and VMix. Apparently, there are more than 200 video hosting sites in the US.
As the market expands significantly, there is a need to search it. Hey, didn’t this happen with traditional Web pages during the 1990s and, in turn, led to the emergence of companies like Google?
Well, at Blinkx, the company is benefiting from the growth in online video. For example, on blinkx.tv, there are more than 4 million hours of searchable video content (the site serves over 3.5 million video search queries a day). The index is rich in content sources, such as CNN, MTV Networks, BBC, Comedy Central and yes, YouTube.com.
“Blinkx is the place to find any kind of video content - wherever it lives,” said Chandratillake. He refers to the growth of user-generated video as “garage TV.” According to him, he considers the video market to be confusing and messy.
He also has concerns about the monetization of online video. “It looks like the focus will be on advertising,” said Chandratillake. “The big problem is providing content that is relevant for advertisers. One way to deal with this is to have a large amount of traffic, such as YouTube. But this creates another problem. Even though bandwidth is cheaper, it is still expensive to deliver online video.”
Chandratillake believes there is an opportunity to charge for content. But this is likely to be focused on high-quality productions, which of course goes to the advantage of Hollywood. “If Jerry Bruckheimer produced online video, I would pay for that,” said Chandratillake.