Thursday, August 24, 2006

Stage6 - So much better than YouTube

I'm so incredibly impressed by DivX's Stage6 site and think it's the best UGC site on the web (to date). The site is in "alpha" (I hate that dev, alpha, beta, gm and release have lost their meaning but that's another point entirely) and I'm experiencing slow loads of basic pages on their site but what impresses me the most is their Karma system.

Yesterday, I commented at Digg on the story that The German version of Wikipedia will include an expiremental feature that new wiki edits won't be posted live to the site until "a registered user with a certain level of time and experience approves the changes." This acknowledges the point that most UGC sites have failed to grasp: Not all users are equal

This is why I love Stage6 and increasingly avoid YouTube. YouTube's rating system is entirely one-dimensional: Every rating is counted equally. What Stage6 does is allow people to classify their vote based on 4 positive traits (wOOt!, Fresh, Funny, Genius) and 4 negative traits (Lame, WTF, Creepy, and my personal favorite: Flamebait)

It's not the voting itself that makes this concept so good but rather what happens to the uploader's permissions based on the ratings
. Get too many negative ratings and presumably your ability to upload decreases or goes away entirely. This is exactly what a UGC site needs. I have been working on a similar concept for an as-yet unannounced initiative. This kind of permission/point system is so obvious and so beneficial to both the host site and its community. Whether it's Stage6 or YouTube or any other site that's storing this content, your bandwidth costs are your biggest variable operating cost. Being able to reduce bandwidth by restricting uploads to the better-rated users is just good business.

The other difference between YouTube and Stage6 is it's revenue model. YouTube announced that it will run custom branded commercial channels, starting first with Paris Hilton. That YouTube, the site whose slogan is "Broadcast Yourself" would think this the best path to generating revenue and introduce this concept with Paris Hilton should give everyone pause for concern. The Stage6 approach to revenue?

It encourages it's users to sell their videos online. You set the price, they get a transaction fee of 10% plus a 3/10ths of a cent per megabyte of your file and the Stage6 seller gets the rest. Now what's missing from this model in my mind is a dynamic marketplace for the buyer's to influence the sale price. Plus, only a small percentage of Stage6's content will likely be truly saleable (i.e. who the hell would pay for a viral video?) but I've always said that the most popular businesses are the ones that make other people money.

From a pure business perspective, what I love about Stage6 is that it's evolved from DivX. Making money off a codec and player is near impossible. But for them to introduce Stage6 is the perfect business evolution. DivX reports over 200 million downloads of its software. They are now figuring out all the ways to integrate between their player and Stage6.

Lastly, the quality of the video is far superior to YouTube and Google Video.

And it's the first time I've seen the Daniel Craig Bond trailer
and I have to say: It looks so much better than any Pierce Brosnan Bond movie.. I thought I would NEVER say that but it's true. The Brosnan movies had become too Hollywood.. I'm definately excited for Casino Royale.

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