Why should you use a YouTube competitor?YouTube is the undisputed king of video sharing. Ever since it was bought by Google in 2006, YouTube has been a top internet property. It's given rise to millions of unique videos and created a new culture of sharing where professionally shot films are given the same space as a cellphone video of a cat falling off a table. But, it wasn't the first online video sharing website. Even today, there are several successful competitors. So, why should you use anything except YouTube? Filling in the gaps
YouTube is huge, and what it does, it does extremely well. If a website were to simply copy YouTube's features and not improve or change them in any way, it wouldn't really have a reason to exist. Yet, even with YouTube being, by some measurements, the third largest website on the internet in terms of traffic, competitors persist by targeting and filling specific needs of users.
Dailymotion is the second-largest video sharing website and is similar enough to YouTube to feel like a Bizarro World version of it. But, underneath the similar exterior is one distinct difference. Dailymotion is much more lenient towards adult content. Whereas YouTube is generally against all pornographic content and takes a hard line with copyrighted material, Dailymotion only bans certain kinds. There is even a specific section for Red Band trailers -- movie trailers that include more explicit content.
Apart from that, Dailymotion is definitely familiar to YouTube users. There are channels, HD quality, and a lot of parody content. Also, it's French. But really, it is the more relaxed content filtering that sets Dailymotion apart from YouTube.
If YouTube is the basic cable of the internet, Vimeo is like HBO -- or the Documentary channel. Vimeo has been around a long time, but while it grew up with YouTube it separated itself through content. Vimeo isn't really about quick, cheap videos or Spanish-language Simpsons clips. Videos there tend to be like short films -- people with professional equipment and good editing.
There are also tools for creators like video filters and music to choose from in order to give videos an Instagram-esque, cultivated feel. Videos are ad-free, there is a Creative Commons area for free original content, and a general sense of civility not usually seen in the cesspool that is the YouTube commenting system. If you like inspirational videos, emotional videos, or Kickstarter pitches, Vimeo has what you need.
Metacafe is like the buzzfeed of video sites. Their focus, however, is on young, male content creators, so it's kind of like a boy's club. If there was a Spike TV of the internet, that's sort of what Metacafe wants to be. It has all of the essential features of video sharing, commenting, and curation like its competitors do, but under the same relaxed adult filters of Dailymotion. So if you just had a solid bro-sesh with your bros but still left want more, Metacafe is the brofest you've been looking for.
While Vine might not be a direct competitor to YouTube, it bears some similarities to the YouTube of a few years ago. Vine is a micro-video service where anyone can upload a six-second video to the internet and share it with friends and the public. It doesn't have the features set of the other services we've mention, but what it does have is momentum with a younger crowd. Just like the early days of YouTube, Vine is creating internet celebrities, and just like Twitter it's raising the profiles of Hollywood B- and C-listers.
Sure it's only six seconds, but as we said in our Instagram vs. Vine comparison, limitations often inspire creativity. Plus, nothing appeals to a teenager more than a new thing that parents don't understand. So, while the many YouTube clones are content to divvy up YouTube's sloppy seconds, Vine and other services like it are forging ahead in new, youth-driven territory.
So why then?
There is a lot of parody in the video uploading sector -- mostly parodies of YouTube. Vimeo does well to curate an image of itself as a place for artists and aspiring artists. Because of that, however, any video uploaded to Vimeo won't gain as much exposure as it would from a larger website like YouTube or Dailymotion.
Dailymotion and Metcafe, allow a raunchier (some would say), freer standard for video uploads which is cool for people who don't want to have their hand held while online. But, of course, with that freedom comes a lot of soft-core video clips that probably only seem "adult" to PG-13 audiences and are mostly in poor taste.
Then there are services like Vine, which are missing a lot of common features and are aimed at completely different goals. But, as we've seen with Twitter or Instagram in the past, sometimes a youthful service with a singular feature set can eat the lunch of bigger, broader services. YouTube is hard to beat. Next to Google Search, Facebook, and Gmail, it's hard to find a website so synonymous with what it offers. It's also still the best option for most people. For some though, rooting for the underdog has a distinct appeal. Just don't expect to see Goliath go down any time soon.
Photo: Maurits Knook