Video Wars: E-mpires Collide

 In Ecommerce

A long, long time ago, somehow in a galaxy far, far away (yet also somehow in the future, too), three galactic video empires clashed in a battle that would decide ultimate supremacy of the bandwidth digital universe.

The unrivaled empire, YouTube, had long held its surefire grip on power, boasting untold billions of hours of online video data and billions of users to boot, with plenty of emerging celebrities in its tow.

YouTube’s arch nemesis, though, Facebook, entered the fray and began to impede on its iron grip, attracting new stars, taking away from YouTube’s data streams and selling its own litany of digital ads.

But where there’s money, power and resources, there surely awaits another rival. Into the fray entered the newest combatant, an online behemoth that controlled a large swath of intergalactic ecommerce trade and streaming digital downloads, Amazon.

The Video Wars began to reach a climax, with no known end to the fight in sight. Many amounts of data would be pitted in this no-holds-barred matchup for the ages. But which empire would come out victorious? Which one would be crowned the new ruler of the bandwidth universe?

YouTube Is Emperor

The mainstay online streaming video service, YouTube, shouldn’t have to worry all that much about either of its rivals. Neither can attest the strength and muster and safety in numbers that YouTube touts. But just how strong are these numbers, and can they really assure the uncontested longevity of this video empire?

Every suit of armor has a chink in it, a weak spot if you will. For YouTube, it’s the small screen stars – the ones who it makes a majority of its advertising revenue from. Smaller companies like Vessel are slowing wooing away these small screen stars with aggressive startup budgets that eclipse $75 million.

But is YouTube really in jeopardy of losing its title? Not really. At least not anytime in the foreseeable future, according to our recent write-up on social commerce statistics.

  • Annual revenue exceeds $5.9 billion, up from $3.5 billion in 2013.
  • YouTube accounts for 6% of all of parent company Google’s annual haul.
  • YouTube retains over 1 billion users. That’s one-third of all people who use the internet.
  • YouTube has more domestic reach than any US television network.
  • Views are up worldwide by 60% over the past two years.
  • Users are flocking to YouTube three times faster than they ever have before.
  • 80% of all views are generated outside of the US.
  • Over 50% of views come from a mobile device.
  • Partner revenue has increased by 50%.
  • Over $1 billion has been tendered to outside rights holders from YouTube views.

Amazon’s Just Entered The Ring

One thing that’s held YouTube back is not allowing other developers to build on their service. That’s resulted in contenders like Amazon Web Services and its user base, Twitch and Joyous, who instead use the Amazon platform to provide viral video sharing, download and streaming services, simply because YouTube doesn’t allow them to build off it.

Amazon Web Services helped spawn sites like Twitch, which was just recently purchased by the ecommerce mega-giant. With viral services like this now under its courtship, Amazon has officially entered into a competitive fray with YouTube and Facebook.

With the popularity of Amazon’s video streaming service growing, and with its video demand increasing, newer shows are being created by the service exclusively for use on Prime. This also means that the company is scouting YouTube stars and Facebook stars to help bring their users even more quality content in the future.

With YouTube not following suit by creating its own variant of series, it’s an easy decision for the e-stars that want to crossover to the next level. And, in reality, it’s only a short matter of time before many of the biggest ones migrate for a healthier paycheck, a larger dose of fame and more palpable screen time.

Facebook’s Not Far Behind

Of course, let’s be certain not to overlook Facebook, which just recently teamed of with Livestream, to offer live streaming video. It’s become a viral sensation overnight, with everyone from standup comics to bands, performers, solo artists, protestors and companies utilizing the service to broadcast events directly to their Facebook pages and to their organic demographics.

Let’s not forget that Facebook has offered integrated video for quite some time. As of December, 2014, a Business Insider report revealed that, “Facebook page owners uploaded more videos directly to Facebook than they did via sharing from YouTube videos.”

This has resulted in Facebook video posts getting more views than YouTube videos that had been shared on Facebook. Perhaps because it’s just easier to host the video directly on the page that you are offering it, as opposed to just embedding it.


Viewers More Responsive On Facebook

Even more interesting is the fact that viewers are more responsive to Facebook video posts than they are to YouTube video posts, which is fuel for digital advertisers. A good example of this responsiveness is found in a John Lewis holiday ad from 2014, which showed that Facebook received 40% of the views. It also got 76.9% of social shares as compared to YouTube’s modest 23.1%.

Facebook’s upload and livestream services have become so popular, in fact, that ABC News now features a show called Newscast that airs 60-second clips. Also worthy of noting is a recent comScore study that that found that Facebook has been slowly but surely chipping at the YouTube block for views.

Growth Shows Facebook Slowly Catching Up

For just 2014, Facebook saw 38.5% growth in views to 491 million, while Google was up just 4.8%, accounting for an increase of 831 million. As the chart below reflects, you can see an upward trend for Facebook that demonstrates that’s not too far behind on closing the gap.


What The Future Looks Like

As time passes, one shouldn’t be surprised to find that Facebook ultimately inches its way closer towards its goal of upsetting YouTube. Given the propensity the social juggernaut already has with regard to its appeal to users and its usability, and contrasted against Google+’s failed social experiment, one has a good mind to think that ultimately Facebook will be the next big empire in the video galaxy. But will Amazon ever truly become a fighting force in this arena? Probably not.