Monopolies and YouTube

Forewarning: This is a rant. It may be a little long, but I'll give you a hug if you read it anyway. It may not change anything in life, but I want people to at least understand why this is not a good situation.

YouTube is basically a monopoly at this point. This is a Very Bad Thing, and it's really starting to show. I don't blog as much as I'd like to, so I'm just going to rant on this for a little bit and hope that something comes out of it.

First, why are they a monopoly? Well that's really easy; they have absolutely no competition in the market. Can you name one site that you visit regularly for video content? Does that website allow the creators to make money on their works, have fairly loose restrictions on content and allow even basic community interaction? The only websites that aren't YouTube that I have even heard of which fit these points are porn and that's not really a good thing. There are a bunch of video hosts out there, but none of them want to compete with YouTube. They restrict their area of focus and sit in their niche corner. (NB: Okay, they're not really a monopoly, we don't need their services any more than we need TV. They're like one.)

It's not so much that a YouTube monopoly is bad. If somebody has to dominate the market then I'm glad it's YouTube. They have been fantastic in the past, proven themselves reliable and have an incredible reach. But monopolies aren't just about "I don't like this big company and I want somebody else", they are self harming by nature and it's starting to show a lot over the last year. With some more recent changes made over the last few months, the internet has been in whispers about the future of YouTube and it's starting to become hard to ignore.

The primary thing that YouTube misses right now is competition, and from that they miss progress. Lack of competition is great for becoming big, but having competitors is absolutely vital for staying there. Competition puts two big pressures on a company, without which they will just sit, never progressing forward but always moving back.

The first of these pressures is the strive to progress further than the other side. Why should people use you if the competitors have this fancy thing which you don't? You should add this fancy thing too, and then find something even better to lure people back to you. This cycles forever, and both sides always move forward towards an infinitely better product. YouTube doesn't have this - they don't need it, because they're the only cat in the game. They could create a new fantastic user community system that encourages fanbases and helps with video reach - but why should they? There's no need for it, they already have "the best product". (Note: I'm not saying that they should make this, or that they need to, it's just an example of how they don't need to create big things to lure in users. They already have the users, they don't need more lures.)

The second, and possibly most important, pressure that competition would bring is that it takes away your safety net and really makes you cautious about making bad decisions. It is often argued that YouTube makes no smart decisions, that their website is more buggy than Minecraft, and that things generally just go wrong because of reasons. If any of this were to happen in a true competition state, the users would move to another place and suddenly there'd be a big need to fix whatever went wrong. Without this they have a safety net; they can make any mistake, say "whoops, our bad!" (or not even) and that's that. What are you going to do; move to a different website?

The last point also brings another scary scenario to mind: What if YouTube suddenly goes away? Okay, that's not likely to happen, they bring in lots of money and it'd be insane to get rid of that. How about if they just suddenly decide to take a very large cut of money from all the content producers revenue, as a fee for being on the website? More than they do right now, I mean. They're perfectly allowed to, I mean it's their website! What would the content producers do? They have nowhere else to go, but for a lot of them this is their main source of income; it'll be incredibly harmful to suddenly lose out on that. There are a lot of scary decisions that YouTube are completely capable of making at an instants notice which will negatively impact millions of people, and they have absolutely no reason not to make any of those decisions. This is scary.

I have to wonder why there are no competitors to YouTube. Every site that I know of avoids being a competitor outright by fitting themselves to a niche, and it really makes me think that there's something I'm not seeing. Vimeo is the second best video site that I use on a semi regular basis, but they have very strict guidelines (such as no video games) and a restricted set of features that encourage artsy or creative works, but not really general videos of life and fluffy kitties. The only other even slightly relevant competitors that I know of are for porn; but even that's kinda funny. They're more progressed than YouTube in some areas! But as they're not a direct competitor (and do not wish to be, again) there's no pressure on YouTube to bring in these features or grow past them.

I really hope that if anything happens in 2014, it's that somebody with experience makes a good competitor to YouTube and that it gets embraced by both video lovers and video creators. That's my wish for the year. Even if they don't overtake YouTube, they can at least inspire YouTube to crush them by improving and progressing forwards.


Paulandpedr0 on 01/01/2014 9:53 p.m. #

I totally agree. I would love to work on a youtube competitor. Maybe once I am out of college (CS Major). It is hard becuase to make it work it would need to be endorsed my big players(lp'ers).

Tom on 01/01/2014 9:54 p.m. #

I totally agree with the stagnant state of free video streaming. I enjoy vimeo, but they are very dead set on their niche. A site that's a competitor to Youtube is perhaps LiveLeak, it seems to be the more gritty youtube.

Tanner Thompson
Tanner Thompson on 01/01/2014 9:58 p.m. #

I completely agree, they could cut off all other partnerships and make it so that only people with 1 million subscribers can be partnered. There needs to be another company that Youtubers can use as a safety net. At most twitch needs to expand and allow videos.

Birkew on 01/01/2014 10 p.m. #

I would be scared of building a video site to compete against youtube for only 1 reason.. Copyright laws.

Don't you think its a major reason for no competition?

David on 01/01/2014 10:01 p.m. #

You make a lot of good points, I agree that they've made some bad mistakes, but I think their move to using G+ integration for comments showed exactly how people feel about change and the addition of features. For the most part, that change was a positive, but people didn't see it as that because they could no longer troll videos on YouTube without having their true identity revealed.

I think the problem for most, will be that even if there IS a competitor in the near future, it will be hard to get people to switch over to it, google search and YouTube are integrated and I know of almost no one that uses anything but Google Search in this day and age

Tanner Thompson
Tanner Thompson on 01/01/2014 10:01 p.m. #

Youtube could easily file lawsuits. Although in the United States in court if they are considered a monopoly the competitor against youtube could win. I am not sure that youtube is a completely American company

Generaltuber on 01/01/2014 10:03 p.m. #

This is so true, really makes you think. Amazing post Dinnerbone, you should do these more often.

Chris on 01/01/2014 10:03 p.m. #

Wow, I never thought about YT like that... It's really scary actually. Thanks for sharing DB! If you want a big competitor of youtube you should need a huge team with professionals. I don't thinks it's going to happen this year or the upcoming years...

ParaDuckz on 01/01/2014 10:09 p.m. #

I totally agree with your point, but the only thing that I don't want is competitors. I want a website where I can watch different kinds of stuff in one place, not in many different places. Imagine having to watch your favorite YouTubers on 10 different websites instead of one, and on YouTube you don't just watch one video... So having competitors would be horrible and frustrating.

Alexander on 01/01/2014 10:10 p.m. #

I agree. Youtube needs to separate from G+
They should let you subscribe to playlists and they should implement better design.

DrSoda on 01/01/2014 10:10 p.m. #

I agress, Youtube is already going downhill, they need competition.

Sam on 01/01/2014 10:10 p.m. #

Why don't Mojang give this a try? You're well known enough and have the skills and power to do it. It would be great to see Google being wiped out by a (not so) indie group of coders.

Tanner Thompson
Tanner Thompson on 01/01/2014 10:12 p.m. #

Sam I don't think they would although the idea is great for mojang to try. They already have 2 games being developed. Although it would be great I just don't see them doing this with their hands full already

Lente on 01/01/2014 10:39 p.m. #

I do not see why any company other then companies at par with Google would want to start competing with Youtube. Brand awareness, hosting (mathing the scale efficiency advantages Google can achieve), development, it would be a huge battle uphill against a monolithic company who could offer their services at a loss easily. In fact, if i recall correctly in 2010 to industry standards, YT was making a loss, but they might have been breaking even because google is google and can achieve certain data/hosting efficiency advantages. And the integration within the google product suite, google has the package, they'd be crazy to allow a competitor in their market. Yes youtube might improve for a while, but once the competitor is pushed out of the market again, i'm afraid it'll return to old standards or even worse! trying to make up for lost revenue. YT needs to get a lot worse before competition would be viable i think from a competitors point of view. Also, i don't think they're doing that terrible, though i very much agree that content creators should be protected more, the fact that ones livelihood can be threatened by 3 (false?) copyright strikes (and for those who have created content on youtube they know a lot of music is also falsely claimed, like that redicious case where a company claimed the sound of a bird chirping some hobbies recorded in the woods somewhere) is a bit rediculous. But i do not think any competitors will enter the market anytime soon.

I'm fairly certain that laws regarding monopolization would force google to index competing video sites aswell. Like Microsoft is forced to offer the opportunity to install another browser than IE (atleast in europe).

Luc on 01/01/2014 10:48 p.m. #

Three things:
1. Dinnerbone you're awesome!!!!!
2. I enjoyed reading that and you should do this more often.
3. I'll make a direct competitor to YouTube and force them to become more awesomer!

(Well that escalated quickly!)

P.S. Can I name it DinnerboneTV?

kelli on 01/01/2014 10:58 p.m. #

Vimeo and Blip let people monetise their videos and are basically the same as youtube.

Takmo on 01/01/2014 11:03 p.m. #

Risking a guess here, but I'd say that the majority of the problem stems from a positive feedback loop, which is pretty common when dealing with monopolies.

Positive feedback: more viewers watch content on YouTube -> content creators follow viewers to YouTube -> more viewers watch content on YouTube

Existing content creators continue to use the service because all of their viewers use the service. New content creators use the service because there is an existing audience to tap into. And, of course, viewers continue to use the service because the content creators they follow use the service.

It is a well known fact at this point that competing with YouTube is a steep, uphill battle with slim chances of success unless embedded in a niche, like you said. The only way that this would change is if media consumers and creators were willing to step away from the brand they know and try something new. No amount of innovation or advertisement will make a difference unless we as consumers and creators are willing to step outside of our comfort zone and try something different.

David Straka
David Straka on 01/01/2014 11:32 p.m. #

I kind of agree with most you wrote. But it would also have one big downside. The downside of Youtube having euqaly good competitor would be that one half (or however big/small part) of people would use YT for uploading their videos and the other one would use the competitor, resulting in the need for users to use both services.

Example here: If you want to play Battlefield 3/4 (not my case here) or Mass Effect 3, you are forced to have Origin. On the other hand if you want to play Team Fortress 2 or Half Life 2, you're in need for Steam.

So the fact that it is a monopol has its advantages and flaws - you have everything at one place but you don't have other option.

Anyway nice rant DB ;)

Austin Sutphin
Austin Sutphin on 01/01/2014 11:52 p.m. #

I have to agree with you. There needs to be a competitor. I absolutely hate the G+ integration they added. I would move to another site, but who would watch my videos then? Everyone is on YouTube these days. I like the way they were a few years ago and I wish they would go back to it. YouTube is just going downhill these days. I just wish someone would make a video site and compete with YouTube.

KierkM on 01/02/2014 12:08 a.m. #

The basic reason there isn't a real YouTube competitor is advertising.It would take a massive amount of funding to create and implement a new video sharing service and keep it running until you had enough users to break even on ad revenue. As long as YouTube stays above 'not horrible' there would be little point in creating a competitor from scratch.

I'd expect any new competitor to come along with a new funding model. I'd be fascinated to see if any networks would try a subscriber based business model like cable TV. Even better would be a new method of microtransactions. As people have mentioned during various charity drives donating a dollar or less pretty much all goes to the payment provider. If we had a way to electronically use small change things might be really different. Imagine if the like button on youtube was a tip button to give $0.25 for a good video?

Karl Hou
Karl Hou on 01/02/2014 12:09 a.m. #

Such insight, Mister Dinnerbone. Wow. I really think that you did a great job with this rant. It's crazy how you just reveal the truths that were lurking in my mind. Bravo!

Jonathan Mayer
Jonathan Mayer on 01/02/2014 1:06 a.m. #

I can name Vimeo, which is exactly like YouTube, but very few people use it.

Dinnerbone on 01/02/2014 1:07 a.m. #

I mention Vimeo in the post. They have strict content restrictions and stay away from anything that would be seen as youtube competition.

Dan on 01/02/2014 2:04 a.m. #

Wouldn't Google just buy and shutdown/merge any potentially successful competitors?

Wesley Fryer
Wesley Fryer on 01/02/2014 3:52 a.m. #

I think the short answer to your question is the economy of scale Google has at this point. I think the only other companies that have the amount of cash AND the server farm infrastructure in place to support an enterprise that would genuinely compete with YouTube are Amazon and Apple, but for different reasons they have their focus on other things.

Most web startups today, from what I understand, are scaling their websites using AmazonS3. I'm not positive because I'm not running the numbers, but I don't know who could afford to pay the AmazonS3 hosting costs which would be required to run a video platform like YouTube which lets anyone publish an unlimited quantity of video to the web.

I was VERY sad to see change its policies last year, they deleted all the content for an 8 year old online conference I've been involved in helping organize. They had (and still do have) an innovative video sharing platform, especially with the transcoding features they supported. They basically want periodic web TV shows, however, so other creative users are no longer welcome. The demise of Blip as a video publishing platform for "others" outside their narrow producer audience is another example of the monopolistic era of YouTube today when it comes to video sharing.

More info about the Blip change is on:

My last thought is that I'm GLAD Google has taken on the challenge of finding a way to monetize YouTube and online video. Before they took it on, YouTube was losing money and would NOT have continued unless a company like Google came along and did what they did. I have drunk lots of "Google Koolaid" as a teacher, participating in some of their certification events, and I sincerely believe at this point "they are not evil." Things can change, but I have a very good view of Google and think they will continue to bring many benefits to web users / consumers / publishers.

Squid_Boss on 01/02/2014 4:23 a.m. #

Although I do agree with this, I'd just like to point out, first off, that as you probably are aware of google now runs youtube. Along with google, their are some common, not so big ones, but still competitors; these include Bing and yahoo, and many more I am sure. Due to these smaller competitors, I have noticed google is growing extremely fast, and keeps getting better. So, in agreeance to your point that competition helps to grow a company, I'd have to totally agree.

As I kept reading I got to the "scary" part. I literally stopped for 5 minutes thinking about how many people would get affected and I actually started to feel worried myself! If youtube were to suddenly end, millions of lifes would be ruined, because many people LIVE off of youtube.

Due to this, I feel a competitor would do best for youtube, as well as many people. At the moment, the best video content I've seen other than youtube is twitch, but that focuses on just live-streaming. If twitch somehow integrated postable videos, and a bit more inactivity to the videos other than the chat, then I believe they could be a good competitor for youtube.

if you took the time to read my rant within this rant, then thanks.

- Squid_Boss

Chrisx84 on 01/02/2014 4:59 a.m. #

Dinnerbone you should put a team together to make another video upload website, kinda like what you did with bukkit. btw. Happy 3rd birthday to your baby (referring to craftbukkit)

Grimm_ on 01/02/2014 6:08 a.m. #

Youtube needs a smack upside the head. They just don't care anymore. The site just keeps getting worse and worse in my opinion.

It wouldn't be so bad if Mojang decided to make a competitor site to youtube.

(hint hint, nudge nudge)

John on 01/02/2014 6:18 a.m. #

There are several issues with there being a competitor. You have to have a lot of money. When I say a lot, oh I mean it. In order to be better/same as YouTube it will need the stuff it has right? We'll YouTube has a busy website, mobile app for a lot of devices, advertising, the ability for people to make money off videos,comment system and that, playlist system, rating system, etc. etc! So a lot of work and money going into this project that is risky.

Well that is only for the competitor to be in line with YouTube what can they add? Well there's a ton of things they can add actually, but the major issue here is copyright. Originality is hard to do when your competing against another company. Just a small list for things they can add is twitch tv video streaming like system, better profile system(easy to use and good quality unlike youtube in my opinion), and fixing/reducing major problems such as copyright strikes, long processing times, and GOOD filters for spamming,swearing, etc.

YouTube is going downhill for sure, who wants to use google plus? We'll it is actually a good system for what it is, I don't want everyone looking me up and stuff, and hate the hassal of making accounts and doing all that dreadful work? We'll with this new integration it's a lot of that. And for YouTube why can't we use a YouTube account not Google+? In other words would you sign up for a instagram account to use a Facebook account? It's not the exact same, but very similar.

Anyways it's late for me :D sorry for typos/grammar errors and what's your take on this topic?

EliteBeef on 01/02/2014 7:51 a.m. #

The thing is: YouTube buys anything that tries to compete with them.

They tried to buy Facebook, but when they saw they couldn't they just started copying it, creating Google+.

RyGuy147 on 01/02/2014 3:14 p.m. #

This reminds me of the time that a YouTube employee said "If it ain't broke, fix it anyways because you need a paycheck."

Dionys Gerin
Dionys Gerin on 01/02/2014 4:06 p.m. #

Though most of what you are saying is correct, I am quite positive that youtube would not do anything like give less money to partners or give less partnerships. Because that would be like stabbing themselves: eventhough there are no big competitors and nowhere else to go. A lot of youtubers have a lot of loyal subscribers and pissing of, for example pewdiepie, yogscast, totalbiscuit, raywilliamjohnson, or any youtuber with 1-10million subscribers, would create an immense impact that could if needed create lawsuits, competitors that not do what youtube might have changed, big audience loss which would cause less profit, and so on.
Also if they won't do anything big that has negative outcome to us, the audience, there is no possibility of any competitors as a lot of people has already said, google and youtube are too big, they could buy it IF it would make a difference to their profit, which it would most likely never do.

One last thing, being a monopoly is not always a bad thing, for example, it provides a large variety of videos all different from another, it allows us to find in just a brief second what funny song was playing on the television a few years ago, it gives us a lot of music from professional artists for free(!), it's also a good way of a lot of people to interact with eachother from different places all over the world, different races, belief, ..

Anonymous on 01/03/2014 1:52 p.m. #

Dailymotion allows general content, but I don't know if it has a payment system.

PirateFraser on 01/03/2014 8:08 p.m. #

i hope youtube will get better soon so to speak content is all over the place atm

Pechente on 01/04/2014 12:54 p.m. #

Youtube is already abusing its monopoly and has so for the last few years. If you’ve ever uploaded videos to youtube on a regular basis, chances are they’ve already screwed you over at least once.

Back in 2009 they deleted my account because a two second video clip of a short visual effects shot I created was said to violate their guidelines. I could never figure out why or get into contact with them to do anything about this. Fuck them!

jwkath on 01/04/2014 3:21 p.m. #

@Birkew No, Copyright really wouldn't be a problem. Youtube can't just say "Any one who tries to make a social media site using videos is get tines sued! That's just not how the world works. This was one of the main reasons that the Winklevoss lost in the courts when trying to say that someone couldn't make Facebook because they had something similar to it before. The rules and laws of internet are pretty vague. Making another internet site such as Youtube would be fine, unless you take everything that they have created (Down to the layout and basic GUI of the site) then of course they won't sew. In fact, judging from this blog, Youtube might look past there ignorance and if your sight is good enough, they may see it as a benefit. If Youtube knows that they need competition, then they should be looking for anyone getting big enough to be a threat to them. Well, thats my view on it. Went a bit off topic of copyright laws, but you know, what ever.

Kira on 01/04/2014 3:39 p.m. #

i beg to differ nico nico douga which is a japanese video website is trying to penetrate foriegn markets especially western countries,and frankly they arent a niche streaming site either,as far as i can tell nico nico douga used to charter youtube servers before google took over.

so maybe you shouldnt worry about such monopolies,as you have said youtube as a whole is a profitable business,they cant just instantaneously pull the plug with out a valid reason,even some companies do.

long story short if google does pull the plug to youtube some unheard of video streaming site might come and take over seizing the limelight thats just how the internet works.

dont want you old customers? simple some company might want them and will definately develop to fill the demand.

Amy on 01/05/2014 5:24 a.m. #

Yep! I agree. Now you owe a lot of people hugs...

Chris Haigh
Chris Haigh on 01/05/2014 11:51 a.m. #

I think you summed up why in the last sentence.
"Even if they don't overtake YouTube, they can at least inspire YouTube to crush them by improving and progressing forwards."
Why plough money into something if you know you are going to be put under by a competitor? You wont have anywhere near the same amount of resources, you wouldn't get the same reception from advertisers and the list goes on. That's why there is only one and you are right, YouTube will do whatever they like to their site, because people continue to use it

Rhychird on 01/07/2014 4:34 a.m. #

If it's been posted already, I missed it, so I'll drop a mention here; check out Bitvid ( It's still in the very early stages of planning (still pre-alpha to my knowledge), and it's a long shot, but if they're successful, it sounds like they'll be bringing everything one could hope for to the table.

Jaey on 01/07/2014 6:22 a.m. #

BitVid is a joke team of 10th graders with no innovation or talent hoping to recruit some developers to build a project for them with 0 funding.

llamaweird on 01/08/2014 11:52 p.m. #

I agree completely, if YouTube had a true competitor they would spend more time thinking over their changes, and ultimately make better decisions on the future of their site.

Alex on 01/11/2014 12:30 a.m. #

Your post really resonated with our team at Youtube's content restrictions and various other barriers for creators are largely what is driving us to build a viable alternative at

It's only 1 month old, so at this stage we are focused building a fundamentally simple video utility - no signup required. Would love your feedback.

Viddme fan
Viddme fan on 01/11/2014 12:31 a.m. #

Totally agree ... there should be other players. I'm a big fan of -- basically imgur for video. Super simple and clean, no sign up needed.

Rob on 01/16/2014 5:47 p.m. #

I agree. Youtube is already abusing its monopoly and has so for the last few years

Stephen Jack
Stephen Jack on 01/24/2014 8:39 a.m. #

I think you are under estimating Vimeo. Their Vimeo business package which is incredibly competitive will probably beat everyone to a reliable 50/60fps 1080p format. I've been on Vimeo Plus for 2 years after moving my site from Youtube which had become a straight jacket of degrading presentational quality. At the moment I'm waiting to see who is first to offer 60fps 1080p as I have 1200+ vidoes in this original format which I want to put online so I can make this enhanced part of my site subscription only with the videos being downloadable. I would not put all this on Youtube given their history of how they treat users, but Vimeo, they have cultivated a very ethical way of working, and I think they will be one of the big players in the future.

mattsmithDW on 01/29/2014 5:42 a.m. #

dude. i love to make websites. (doesnt mean im good at it :P) but i would totally help someone who is willing to do this. we could call it dinnertube? nah jk copyrights maybe...
but it would be awesome to have something against youtube. to fight them. and to make it better. the internet would change a ton. every forum page in the world would change. they all have links for youtube.

tillwill on 02/02/2014 6:14 p.m. #

Well, in my opinion, sadly, if a competitor does ever come up, it may end up like things did during the golden age of Pan-Am, getting taken to court and bought out. What we happen to need here is a Howard Hughes willing to take on the monopoly directly in court, if it can be considered a monopoly.

tillwill on 02/03/2014 9:31 p.m. #

Now I have it, youtube is already pushing us to the limits on this stuff. Whatever happened to ad-free and fast-loading videos like they used to have?

tom on 02/04/2014 6:45 p.m. #

Daily motion is a good video site other than youtube

gamblingsam on 02/05/2014 8:32 p.m. #

Dailymotion basically does everything you'd like to see from a competitor.

Nathan Barnett
Nathan Barnett on 02/07/2014 6:34 p.m. #

I agree with the sentiment in this post that YouTube is stagnant and siding against sane copyright practices and other things, but I disagree with calling YouTube a monopoly. A monopoly is a word with a precise definition - one can only exist when competition is prevented. A large market share doesn't define a monopoly. That being said, I don't think YouTube is invincible. Facebook is focusing a bit more on video, and while they're probably years away, I could see them trying to take on Google in search/video and other services. They have a pretty widespread 3rd party ecosystem who is onboard with the video market (see for instance). Now Facebook has their own can of worms with privacy issues and other problems, but the point is that realistic competition is very possible.

Rose on 02/13/2014 4:15 p.m. #

Google is a greedy abomination there trying to pry on everyones privacy and get as much money as possible and I it's because in the social standard way of looking at a buissness is to make money which I personally think is a foul goal for a company anyways but I can see the reasons why because of reality of life.

Now the reason why YouTube needs to go is one to remove themselves from there controlling power also they need too remove the CEO of Google all together replace him with a genius a smart,caring and kind human being who doesn't provoke negativity in any form if possible.

Then once they have done all that someone needs to come out of the blue and create a site thats completely innovative to the point that a person gets more out of it then normally thought of in the first place and beyond that as well and allow other video sites to partner with them to make one huge site of videos rather then having all these other stupid location stream them from each other.

I think that competitor is not necessary :) but more annoyance which I don't like personally.

Rose on 02/13/2014 4:21 p.m. #

Sorry and also they should stream videos from every other site to one big main site so you can the best of both worlds :D

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