Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Meet Metacafe

Metacafe is an Isreali video-sharing site with its sights set on surpassing YouTube, the web-based superpower that Google just bought for a kajillion dollars. What's Metcafe have that YouTube does not? Standards and incentives for contributors, according to Metacafe co-founder Arik Czerniak.

To start, those who upload videos can explicitly license their content to Metacafe and in return get paid $5 for every 1,000 views. During a recent trial run, Joe Eigo, a martial artist from Toronto, made $23,000 with a video of his acrobatic flips and kicks.

Here is an excerpt from The Economist about the site and how they control video quality:

Like YouTube, Metacafe makes money by selling advertising on its site. But unlike its rival, it makes an effort to choose and promote “good” videos on its home page. First, it rejects duplicates (about half of submissions). Then it uses 100,000 volunteers as film critics—just as Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, uses volunteers to write and vet articles. As a third filter, Metacafe then analyses the clips with its VideoRank algorithm, which crunches all sorts of metrics (whether viewers watch a clip to the end, for instance) in order to rank them—rather as Google's famous PageRank algorithm ranks web-search results.

Whether Metacafe's stuff is any good is entirely subjective, of course. Much of the content its volunteers and its algorithm approve is soft porn, and a lot, as on YouTube, violates copyright. But the system does produce statistics that are roughly the inverse of YouTube's: about 90% of the clips viewed are in the statistical “head”, not the “tail”—ie, they are popular clips featured on the home page. Counting all views, YouTube is ten times bigger than Metacafe, says Mr Czerniak, who recently moved his company's headquarters from Tel Aviv to San Francisco; but counting only views of the top 200 videos on each site, Metacafe wins by a whisker.

Here is the Metacafe site:

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