The Year in Online Video

    December 5, 2008
    Chris Crum

Now that we are in December, the final month of the year, I thought it would be fun to go back through our archives and take a look at some of the highlights of different sectors of our industry, and reflect on everything that has happened over the year 2008. January seems so long ago. So much has happened.

I’m going to start this concept by taking a look at the year in online video via WebProNews coverage. It would be near impossible for me to cover every single shred of news that occurred in this area, as this has truly been the year for online video. So I’m going to limit it to some highlights, but don’t worry, there are still plenty of stories to reminisce about. Let’s take it month by month.


The year started off with tons of things going on in the online video industry. Netflix announced a partnership with LG  that would see the development of a set-top box for people to watch video content from the Internet on high-definition TVs. Not long after that, Netflix started allowing unlimited streaming of its available online content.

Meanwhile in the month of January, TiVo announced that it would offer online video, MTV partnered with Dailymotion and Veoh, and MySpaceTV partnered with the BBC  to show BBC content on MySpace.

Robert Scoble was leaving PodTech  to join Fast Company and create the video channel and the Associated Press was introducing  a new local video feature for affiliate news sites to upload locally produced video.

Nielsen was reporting that traffic to some online video sites had doubled since the writers’ strike, and Pew Internet Research project indicated that about 50% of those surveyed had been to video-sharing sites, up from 38% the previous year. Burst Media said that 72% of consumers had viewed video online and the majority of all age segments have watched online videos. They also reported that over half of people would stop watching videos once an in-stream ad came on.

Comment on January’s happenings.


February saw Yahoo acquire Maven Networks for approximately $160 million and introduce a new version of Yahoo Video,  which would embody "the whole spectrum of video found throughout Yahoo!, including music, movies, TV, news, sports, and a whole lot more." Google was preparing video ads for search results, and releasing a beta for AdSense for Video.

Accustream reported that four out of ten people over the age of 65 viewed online video, and User-generated videos totaled 22 billion views in 2007, a 70% increase from the previous year. Nielsen (whose TV panel started measuring online videoreported on a study that found that women lean towards watching network television online while men favor user-generated content.

An interesting story also came out in February about the police using YouTube for leads. "Everbody’s using YouTube, so there’s no reason police departments shouldn’t use it too," said the Arlington, VA Police Department.

Comment on February’s happenings.


March saw a big step forward for online video when not only did Hulu launch publicly, but Sports Illustrated unlocked its video vault  and South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker and Comedy Central decided to make every episode of the hit TV show available online  for streaming at a new ad-supported site called And let’s not forget NCAA March Madness.

Also in March, YouTube introduced its video analytics program YouTube Insight, and started playing around with higher resolution video clips. They also released APIs  for uploading videos and video responses, adding/editing user and video metadata, fetching localized standard feeds, performing custom queries, and customizing the player UI and controlling video playback.

eMarketer took a look at online video growth in the U.S. and projected that by the end of the year over 50% of all Americans would be viewers.

Comment on March’s happenings.


April saw South Park make another ripple in the online video pool when they aired an episode called "Canada on Strike," which parodied the writers strike and how people were turning to the Internet for their video-watching entertainment. The episode took jabs at a number of YouTube sensations like the Star Wars kid and the dramatic gopher.

Canada on Strike

Mirroring this theme, the Convergence Consulting Group issued a report about how people are increasingly turning to their computers for their television viewing. "We estimate online viewing of full-episode Broadcast/Cable Network TV as a percentage of the traditional TV base was 9% in 2007 (6% in 2006), and we forecast 14% for 2008, 19% for 2009, and 23% for 2010," the report said. Insight Research projected that streaming video and music would bring in $70 billion in revenue over the next six years.

Also in April, popular Yahoo-owned Photo sharing site Flickr started allowing users to post 90-second video clips. YouTube, who  combined with Google as a whole made up 77% of the video market, rolled out some new policy changes that relaxed penalties against violators of its community guidelines.

Hitwise took an interesting look at how search engines play an increasingly important role in driving traffic to video sites.

Comment on April’s Happenings.


The band Weezer put out a video to its song Pork and Beans, which (much like the recent South Park episode) featured many references to YouTube sensations (many of the same ones in fact).

Netflix and Roku launched their set-top box and StumbleUpon struck video content deals with College Humor, Funny or Die, Vimeo, Dailymotion, and Rumors circulated that Google and/or News Corp were interested in video search engine Blinkx.

ABI research was reporting that online video viewers would top one billion in 2013 and TubeMogul examined video view-counting standards. Actors and studios battled over online clips, while a bill came up that would require major producers of Internet video to add captions and video description soundtracks.

Comment on May’s happenings.


In June, CBS and Yahoo partnered to distribute CBS programs and presumably to compete with Hulu. Sony announced   that YouTube would be available on the company’s Bravia Internet Video Link service.

At this point, YouTube and Google accounted for 80% of video traffic. One report showed that YouTube and Disney were the top video sites for kids, while another looked at how online video would drive IP traffic growth. Ipsos MediaCT reported that while during February of 2007, about 11% of video content was watched on PCs, the number grew to 19% for the same month in 2008.

Comment on June’s happenings.


In July, Hulu made its way   into the top ten in comScore’s "videos viewed" category, establishing the site as a huge player in the game. Meanwhile, YouTube partnered with Lionsgate to distribute movie and TV clips, and share ad revenue. Mediaset filed a lawsuit against Google over YouTube-related copyright-infringement.

Video advertising was a hot topic in July. The Kelsey Group said that small and medium-sized businesses would play a big part in the expansion of online video advertising with contributions growing from $10.9 million in 2007 to $1.5 billion in 2012. Classified Intelligence talked about how video was the "new display ad." Ipsos MediaCT found that online video viewers were more likely to accept ads in videos that are professionally produced in exchange for access to free content than they were in user-gerenerated content. YouTube was still struggling with advertising strategies.

Comment on July’s happenings.


In August RocketBoom inked a deal with Sony to distribute the webcast across its properties, including, Playstation 3, Playstation Portable, Bravia i-Link and syndicated network of 3rd party distributors. Ning co-founder Marc Andreessen (who is also a Facebook board member) and HP’s business tech manager, Ben Horowitz bought stakes in mobile video streaming service Qik.

The FCC was said to be interested in lowering cable prices as a result of online video’s popularity as Nielsen reported strong growth among video-sharing sites.

Also in August, Search Engine Strategies came to San Jose, and WebProNews covered an interesting session about video search optimization.

Comment on August’s happenings.


In September, Hulu was getting episodes of popular NBC shows before they were even airing on television. To me, this truly emphasizes online video’s emergence. NBC further empphasized the importance of online video by reporting that it streamed over 12 million hours of Olympics content across its digital platforms, with 7 million visitors watching over 30 millions streams of live and Video On Demand content at

Amazon started offering streams of thousands of movies and shows, and also let users start watching some directly from it’s IMDB (Internet Movie Database) property.

Google launched Google Video for business, a new addition to Google Premium Apps that enables workers in organizations to share videos by uploading them to Google Apps and inviting co-workers to view the content. Google also started integrating audio indexing or "GAudi" (Google Audio Indexing) into video search.

MySpace started offering the option to record video directly from there, and Vint Cerf talked about the future of the Internet and how video will become more interactive with more content and ad control given to the consumer.

YouTube unveiled a new and improved video uploader that lets you:

– enter in your video’s metadata (title, description, tags, etc.) while the upload is processing.

– Upload multiple files at once, without downloading a plugin (separate progress bars will display for each file).

– The file-size limit for uploads has been raised from 100MB to 1GB.

YouTube also introduced a "Hot Spots" feature for YouTube Insight that allows you to actually pinpoint the specific parts of videos that get viewed the most, which would be very interesting to advertisers.

Comment on September’s happenings.


October was another big month for online video. Playboy announced that it would even drop its DVD business in favor of going strictly online. MTV finally gave fans of the original MTV what they’ve been lacking from the network for years, and that is access to all the music videos they want to see. They launched, a site dedicated to watching music videos online.

Netflix opened their API to developers to syndicate content and even allow commercial use of it. They also formed a partnership with TiVo for streaming content.

YouTube started putting commercials in videos, held a live event featuring a number of "YouTube sensations," and finally started an initiative to offer full-length TV episodes. They also provided an option to link to any moment within a YouTube video.

Joost decided to get more competitive and allow users to use the service without having to download an application. was announced and would combine streaming content from as many as sixty partners with the home television streaming capabilities of the "Slingbox", which includes "on demand" and DVR content as well as online video.

Veoh reported on a study that found that online video viewers are more engaged, and a Web Influencers Internet Media Tour survey conducted by D S Simon Productions found that:

– 77% of online media sites project the use of video to increase over the next year.

– 45% of TV stations use outside video for their websites.

– 67% of radio stations, newspapers, magazines, and bloggers use outside video on their websites.

– TV stations were most likely to use video at 79%

– websites and bloggers were second at 70%

– Over half of all newspaper and magazines are using video on their sites

Ipsos Media CT’s Motion study found that online video growth was being driven by women and older consumers, and the Wall Street Journal talked about video search engines getting smarter.

Cisco released survey results showing the influence of online video and social media applications on American’s political engagement. This was talked about much more after Obama won the election.

On a funny online video-related note, some guy got arrested only after he pointed the cops to YouTube videos of him driving recklessly.

Comment on October’s happenings.


Speaking of Obama, in November it was announced that he would be giving weekly addresses to the nation via online video to be posted at his site as well as YouTube (his administration has its own channel). This is another milestone for online video. The upcoming President of the United States is using it to address the nation. That’s pretty big. In other presidential online video happenings, YouTube encouraged voters to "video their votes" on Election Day.

YouTube was quite busy in November. They introduced new translation features and enhanced features in embedded videos.

YouTube also began offering sponsored videos and announced live programming. Then there was the wholetesting of HD content and the unveiling of the new bigger and wider video player. I also wrote a piece on the educational benefits of YouTube. joined YouTube in iPhone compatibility and MySpace launched its PrimeTime application.

Comment on November’s Happenings.


That just about brings us to the present. So far in December, Jason Miller looked at the top 5 viral video searches from Truveo, which were as follows:

1.’s “Yes, We Can”
2.    Paris Hilton Responds to John McCain Ad
3.    Fred Goes Swimming
4.    Kobe Jumps Over Car
5.    Valentina Hasan Sings “Ken Lee”

And YouTube has given musicians a chance to play Carnegie Hall. Being how we are in the very early days of the month, I don’t have much else for you in this section, but it will be interesting to see what else occurs before the year is up.

Comment on December’s happenings.

All in all, there is no question that it’s been an exciting year for online video, and there promises to be even more excitement in the coming year. We’re likely to see much more growth in online video viewing, advertising, and search. We can no doubt expect a few more funny stories as well, and probably some tragic ones like the recent suicide. It’s all just a testament to how the medium has become part of everyday life for so many people. All signs point to tremendous growth in this respect. I’ve said it before. We’re in the middle of an "online video revolution" and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.

Please feel free to point out any other online video-related stories from 2008 that I did not mention. I know there are plenty more.