Some of my reviewer colleagues have been expecting this for some time, over the last few months even more so. Well, the day finally happened. Blip has sent out emails to people who haven’t been purged from the video hosting service that they will soon be going offline as of August 20th, 2015, in other words next month. The few reviewers still on Blip have been not so much surprised by the move as, I would think, when. That means they have one month to find a new host, post all of their videos to that host (and the more content they have the longer that will be), and change the embed codes on either their site or whatever collective they are a part of.
Of course it’s not just reviewers on Blip. While I have never heard if the fictional or documentary producers were hit with the two purgings from Blip.tv, they will certainly be affected now. Sci-fi westerns, LGBT teen dramas, auto showcases–they’re all going away unless they find a new host. And while that sounds easy…it really isn’t. But people did see this coming.
First a brief history. Blip was founded as an alternative to YouTube, offering revenue sharing (which YouTube at the time either wasn’t offering or only offered to the bigger names) to everyone for their original content. The advantage was not being lost in a sea of cat videos, people being goofy, and old TV shows and movies posted without the approval of the rights holder whether they were available legally or not (the reason for Content ID). Original shows would stand on their own. A low-budget retro style serial about invisible men using an office building for an invasion? You can come here. A show about a cowboy fighting demons? Easy to track down. Puppet monsters who run a television station in Transylvania? Easier to find it here. Automotive reviews? An easy category list to find it. It was great.
When YouTube began a Content ID system that was unforgiving in how content was used, reviewers flocked to Blip, even after YouTube offered ad revenue sharing to everyone. Blip even had a smaller limit that YouTube as to how much revenue you need before getting paid. Review shows were all over Blip, and on your Blip page you could promote your fellow reviewers and any of the fictional stories you could find on there. And they tried to make the frontpage as inviting as they could. YouTube even took ideas from Blip on how to set up their own channel pages. I’ve read about Blip being a contender against YouTube but outside of a better comment system Blip was a better idea for produced shows, whether fictional or reviews of fictional shows. So what happened?
Blip must not have been doing as well as it hoped because it was bought out by Maker Studio, a YouTube multi-channel network hoping to use Blip for off-site distribution, according to an article in Variety.
With Blip, Maker would have a network off YouTube where it could distribute its content. Conversely, Blip content — from partners including FremantleMedia North America and comedy star Ray William Johnson, who previously worked with Maker Studios before a public dispute — could be distributed and promoted across Maker’s properties.
Maker also is interested in using technology developed by Blip to distribute content to mobile and connected-TV platforms, according to sources.
YouTube, of course, is now available on smartphones, tablets, heck my dad’s TV has a YouTube app, or they can just watch it through the regular browser. The odd thing is the same article boasts that Maker Studios had the largest multi-channel network (MCN) on YouTube, which is what actually drew the other problem, Disney. Disney bought Maker Studios roughly a year later looking to get into the online content market, and even as early as February, Maker was talking about going beyond YouTube.
But (Maker President Ynon) Kreiz is equally focused on getting traction on different platforms outside YouTube. Addressing criticism that the company’s Maker.tv property has not seen much growth to date, he noted that this off-YouTube destination is also the streaming player powering 30 different apps each branded by a different top YouTube personality represented by the Maker affiliate network.
“We already have close to 600,000 downloads on the apps,” he said. “We are very happy with that progress.”
Kreiz also cited the presence of Maker in Dish’s new Sling TV app and transactional opportunities its talent is starting to take advantage on Vimeo, not to mention the momentum Facebook and Twitter are experiencing in online video distribution.
Folks, I’ve been to Maker Studios and Maker Max‘s websites, and they are a joke, good for business promotion but not for viewers to scout around like collective sites that reviewers use, like Channel Awesome, or even Blip, where you can search for categories and find the show or type of show you’re after. I’m not sure what kind of promotion you get from Maker based on what I’ve seen of their sites. Hopefully they’ll fix that or maybe there’s another site I should have looked at. I don’t know. What I do know is that the signs of Blip’s passing were more and more obvious over the past few months to those creators still up there.
There is a reason even Doug Walker, who was part of Blip’s “League Of Super Critics” (I wonder what will happen to that project) moved to Screenwave before the announcement. Blip hasn’t done a good job paying their contributors, similar to Dreamwave except I don’t think anyone’s buying expensive cars for their parents. Here are a few tweets from CA contributor Nash Bozard, of Radio Dead Air and Here There Be Dragons.
And those of us who were purged were never told why or given a chance to try to improve or defend our work. It was a form letter and when I asked (having been caught in the second round of purging) was told that they weren’t giving reasons. However, we could apply for Maker Max. My response was, and still is, why would I do that when I don’t know why I was cut and thus am not sure you’d bring me in? And it required a YouTube account, and I remind you reviewers left YouTube for Blip for a reason.
Although thanks to Channel Awesome’s ties with Blip some members who were going to be caught in the purge were rescued, so Nash really had nothing to worry about. So what are the options for Blip people? YouTube still has the faulty Content ID system that IP owners like but even the more moral posters find too strict when doing reviews. Toei’s part can’t even tell the difference between Sentai, Power Rangers, and reviews of either, which is why Lewis Lovhag, who has been posting “reruns” of Atop The Fourth Wall, hasn’t posted History Of Power Rangers (I’ll come back to this.) One of my episodes of BW Panelling, “If It Isn’t Borg, Don’t Fix It”, had to be taken down due to the panel having numerous video clips and when Blip was no longer an option I didn’t (and still don’t) have a place to put it. (And I don’t use ad breaks for BW Panelling except for that one 2 hour panel to give viewers a break. Otherwise, it’s just the banner ads and opening/ending vids. I don’t use any at all for non-review V-Logs and walking around convention footage.)
Screenwave, where many reviewers seem to be going, also doesn’t have a dedicated search page so unless you have your own site your distribution is limited. Also, that site better not be WordPress.com, where BW Media Spotlight and The Clutter Reports, my two sites, are hosted. See, WordPress, while otherwise a good host which is why I’m still here, is a bit concerned when it comes to people trying to sneak malicious code onto their sites, as that affects all of WordPress and opens them up to lawsuits even if they weren’t aware of it. So they only deal with certain video, audio, and image hosting sites. As of this writing, the list of sites WordPress works with included Blip and only last year or so finally included Hulu but does not include Screenwave. Also, slower connections have problems with Screenwave. I was on DSL and I couldn’t watch anything with that player because it wasn’t fast enough and Screenwave lacks buffering of any kind.
And even then you can’t get the embed code from Screenwave. For example, when I post History Of Power Rangers along with my thoughts it has to be the Blip version because even if Lewis (who has given me permission in the past to post the show) gave me the embed code he uses for his site and CA, I wouldn’t be able to post it to this website under this host. And since Lockerz bought up and killed Vodpod I have no other options for embedding video outside of the list. I’ll still do my version of HOPR but it will have to have a link to the posting on Linkara’s site rather than staying here and watching it, while Lewis gains a whole nickel from my readers who don’t have to go to a second site for the video. Also, I post one video a day with my thoughts while he (not having to attach an article to them) posts them all at once. Plus any other reviewer who let me post their work or use as part of my commentary I may not be able to promote as easily now. Newcomers like Zippcast or little-know services like Veoh or overseas sites designed for other countries and languages are not an option and some of the latter WordPress may be right to block.
Of the aforementioned list there are only two options available, since I doubt Flickr Video is the place for a half-hour review or hour-long convention panel. Vimeo may work for fiction shows but unless you can fit “media critic” under the documentary or promotional arms (I might make a case for BW Panelling except for that one I mentioned with lots of clips) there’s no place there. Even more so if you’re trying to make a business out of your web content, whatever your show may be, since they don’t have revenue sharing, only a “pay-per-view” style system. That means fans would have to pay for every episode rather than
complaining about watching an ad to get the content for free. For reviewers this is not a good business model and for other web shows their results may vary. So that one is out.
Dailymotion is one that most of my reviewer colleagues have gone to, as it has a looser version of Content ID and also does revenue sharing. There is a problem with this as of this writing because Dailymotion’s ad system is easily the worst of the options. Ads pop up every five minutes, which would be frustrating watching an action show or a meaningful conversation. I try watching some of my favorite reviewers and friends on that site and having a sentence broken every five minutes for an ad that sometimes doesn’t even pause the main video is annoying, but it may be the only alternative to YouTube for anyone hosted at WordPress, and it does offer comments much as YouTube or a personal site does. Other options are paid hostings rather free ones or designed with business promotion in mind so this is pretty much it: Vimeo if you don’t mind not making money or offering pay-per-view for your work, YouTube if you don’t mind drowning in random content while fighting Content ID, or Dailymotion’s ads every five minutes while still drowning in random content.
I’m not sure if this is tougher on the reviewers or the fiction/documentary people, since I’m only part of the reviewing community and thus only aware of their experiences. At any rate, this is not a good day for online content. Blip was one of the top video hosters for original content and Maker and Disney not able to work it despite Maker buying Blip and Disney buying Maker specifically to use those resources, what does it say about internet video? I saw a video today from the React channel in which people were discussing YouTube’s 10 anniversary, suggesting that someday internet “TV” would replace the current television model. While this may or may not be true when one of the bigger names goes down it shows that nobody is too big to fail if you don’t know what you’re doing. Blip knew what it was doing (or appeared to, since they were bought out), and Maker Studios, with or without Disney, did not. And it’s the content creators (and Blip staff out of a job, of course) who will suffer for it. Good luck, guys.