Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Moving on // Trying out alternatives to YouTube video hosting

Published by Mr. C

Not so long ago, I mentioned the issues we were having with YouTube. Since then I've been testing a number of alternative services, most notably blip.tv and Dailymotion.

The contenders

Firstly I'd like to give a big thumbs up to blip.tv because they offer so many excellent features over and above the things I've come to expect from video networking sites. Their site came as a bit of a shock.

On offer is the ability to upload multiple versions of any clip, excellent download statistics (being the sucker for a fancy pie-chart that I am), and a great video player that we're currently running on our MySpace profile. Oh, and they integrate this very blog within our show page.

The one killer-feature that sets blip.tv apart from the competition though...is the ability to choose your own video preview image. It might not sound that important, but this is the picture that appears before users click on a video to make it play. It needs to entice viewers into starting the video in the first place, so it has to be a pretty good image that both conveys the context of the video whilst shouting click me. Other services offer almost no control over this graphic, randomly selecting a frame from the footage that may or may not be ideal. Take a look at the thumbnail for our Donington Grand Prix Collection on YouTube to see what I mean. You'll find yourself looking at the chest of a pit mechanic-mannequin, wearing black overalls. It hardly screams "see this fantastic classic car collection" does it?

Blip.tv isn't perfect though, as the image previews that you're able to provide have to work as both postage-stamp squares as well as a 4:3 TV rectangle. So for the F1 Bahrain Preview we had to choose between an obese presenter or a gaunt one. Mike from blip.tv assures us they're hoping to have this fixed in the next couple of weeks though.

The one other issue I'm facing with blip.tv is there aren't many F1 fans on there at the moment, which means it doesn't solve my initial problem of sourcing Friday practice footage from users in countries that have access to it. Dailymotion on the other hand, does seem more prolific when it comes to illegal F1 content and therefore it wins the content battle hands down. Beyond that though there's not a lot of features that YouTube doesn't offer already. It is faster and more reliable though, so worth moving to if you're sick of YouTube's flaky stability and general tardiness.

In conclusion

The video space is changing rapidly at the moment. YouTube are planning to introduce the ability for content owners to remove copyright infringing content. I'm pretty sure Bernie will love this idea and get straight on with bringing down every single F1 race clip out there.

This doesn't affect Sidepodcast in terms of our content, but as we've said in the past - Bernie offers no online footage of Friday practice and ITV are not obliged to show anything, so the clips will be missed should they disappear.

In the meantime we're not going to abandon YouTube altogether, but we will encourage viewers / listeners to try out the alternative services. The sidebar on our homepage is doing just that. It takes very little extra time for us to manage all three services, so there's no reason why they can't all exist in harmony. We would happily recommend blip.tv to anyone that creates their own content though.

Be interested to hear more of your thoughts on this one.