So, our baby sitter Brittany Holloway clued me into FunnyorDie.com a few days ago. She was pretty proud of showing me something that I had not seen yet. The site is only 7 weeks old and it includes professionally made video shorts from Will Ferrell and others as well as consumer generated comedy shorts. You can read a nice synopsis from the New York Times called Comedy Business Turns to the Web. The immortal landlord video that's posted on Funny or Die has like 3.2 million views which should make anyone jealous, plus there are a ton of other videos with serious amounts of views (see screen shot). When I looked for them over at YouTube all I found were grainy versions with a mere fraction of the views.
Hmmm, this got me thinking. If a big time comedian like Will Ferrell can quickly pump out videos that produce millions of views in a short amount of time than what does it say about the future of YouTube or any other video aggregator site for that matter? According to the NY Times article, Ferrell started with a $5K budget and then Sequoia Capital increased its investment to several million dollars. So, it is really peanuts for other professionals to follow his lead, right? Add in say, Sports announcers for their own Sports shows (think Yankeeography) and other genres and then what happens to YouTube? What happens if all of these professionals want to only post it on their website like Comedy Central?
Some folks will tell you, well they will be missing out on the YouTube community. Me, I'll tell you that people won't care. No matter how great the community aspect is in YouTube they will follow the content. See what made YouTube cool was the ability to have your videos hosted for free where you can engage the community for free. People get that now because the model is so simple.
Take for example the current group of Presidential candidates. It makes sense for them to be on YouTube because they can have their own channel there and that makes it easy for people to engage with the campaigns. Sure the RNC or DNC could make their own channel, but then it would have to pull the audience over with political messages. This is a lot harder than going where the people are. Comedy shorts is another issue altogether.
Now back to my title. I was tipped off by a 19 year old college student. Britt is well connected and has a large following on Facebook and MySpace so she is exactly the Web 2.0 social user. Did she care (or her friends) that she wasn't on YouTube but on FunnyorDie.com? Heck no. Why should she? She can leave comments, vote, and interact with other users and whether that is on YouTube or elsewhere it doesn't matter.
My take? If I was Yahoo, AOL, MSN, or Google I'd take a good look at what is happening at FunnyorDie and start thinking about channels rather than community. The community is a tool that makes video viewing on the internet 2-way, not the driving force behind why there is traffic there; that's what the content is for. If they wait too long to build channels behind the content, they'll get outfoxed by Joost where the community aspect is just a tool and the content, organized like TV channels, is king.