Want to buy a video-sharing site?

According to a story at CNET, things aren’t looking so hot at Revver, the video-sharing site that made its name by paying video creators based on the traffic their clips generated. More than half of the employees who worked there 18 months ago are now gone, CNET says, and the company has reportedly been shopping itself around for the past few months. Asking price: Less than half a million dollars (plus the assumption of debt). This for a company that raised almost $13-million in funding.

I was a fan of Revver’s model early on, because I thought it made sense to compensate video artists whose clips drove a lot of traffic to the site. Among the beneficiaries of this model were video artists such as the Eepybird team (the guys behind the Diet Coke and Mentos videos) and the Lonelygirl15 project, as well as a range of other artists, including the Ask A Ninja guys and the creators of the “Will It Blend” videos. Liz Gannes at NewTeeVee has more background on Revver.

One of the controversial aspects of a site such as YouTube is that it makes bundles of cash from the ads that top-rated videos bring, but until relatively recently the creators of those videos got nothing out of the deal. The company has since expanded its “partner” program to include top-rated video artists, which is a nice change. And maybe the fact that it has done so — and that YouTube is responsible for a vast proportion of the video traffic on the Web — was enough to make Revver irrelevant.

Update:

Ashkan Karbasfrooshan of HipMojo has a great overview of the video scene.

TV 2.0 — slouching towards Bethlehem

Two announcements that indicate the process of evolution in the TV 2.0 business is really picking up a head of steam: Brightcove — which until recently was like the wizard behind the curtains, powering online TV ventures such as the recently announced music video deal with Warner Music — remakes itself with a consumer-facing site and service that plans to compensate users for video content, and Metacafe announces its “producer awards” feature, which pays video uploaders $5 for every 1,000 views their video gets above the 20,000 mark.

Plenty of people wondering what this means for GooTube, of course, now that Google has paid $1.6-billion out of petty cash for the thing — but it’s also worth wondering how the folks over at Revver are feeling, since they more or less pioneered the whole “pay the users” video thing. Thanks to Revver, the guys at Eepybird.com who made the Diet Coke-Mentos video got $30,000 or so for all the views that their clip got (Revver pays creators 50 per cent of the ad revenue they get, and you can also get paid based on how many places the video is embedded).

headroom

As Matt Marshall explains over at VentureBeat, Metacafe not only pays producers of video, it also tries to filter out the chaff by submitting videos to a group of reviewers who give it the thumbs up or down before it hits the site, adding a kind of Digg-style (or American Idol-style) voting aspect to it. And then there’s Brightcove, which will give content owners 50 per cent of the revenue from ads, or the ability to offer paid downloads of their content, for which they get 70 per cent.

In a sense, YouTube and its ilk are coming at the market from the opposite end of things as Brightcove: they started with videos of kittens and skateboarders hurting themselves and so on, and are now trying to become more mainstream and legitimate, while Brightcove started as the corporate stooge who works with the networks and now wants to layer some popular, viral video on top of all that. Who will win? The betting window is now open.

Update:

Marshall at TechCrunch notes that Google also tweaked its video service today, by adding a “sponsored” video category aimed at major TV production outfits (those with at least 1,000 hours of video). The new feature launched with a Coke video with none other than the Eepybird Mentos guys.

YouTube vs Revver — Revver should win

Amid the news that YouTube has beaten MySpace when it comes to Web traffic (a stat that we should all be somewhat skeptical about, since it is based on Alexa data, as Pete Cashmore points out over at Mashable) there is increasing attention being paid to the fact that YouTube’s success is based largely on two things: copyright violations, and “user-generated content” from which the users in question see absolutely no return whatsoevers.

Obviously, some of those posting their skateboard tricks or a buddy’s lip-synching routine to YouTube get such a huge charge out of seeing their stuff on a website that they don’t really need any more compensation for their efforts — but for those who would like to see a little something in return for all those millions of downloads, there is always Revver. As Scott Karp points out, the guys at Eepybird who did the Diet Coke and Mentos video got $30,000 because their video clip was posted on Revver, but lost out on that much or more because it was also posted to YouTube. Amanda Congdon and Ze Frank have both asked downloaders to post their stuff to Revver instead of YouTube.

It’s possible that the Mentos guys wouldn’t have gotten quite as many downloads from Revver if people hadn’t seen it first on YouTube, but even assuming that’s true, they still deserve some compensation for their work, and the best way to accomplish that seems to be Revver. Why haven’t YouTube or Google Video tried to build the same kind of model that Revver uses? Maybe they’d much rather keep the cash for themselves. In YouTube’s case, they probably need it to pay their gigantic bandwidth bills. (Lulu.tv, Eefoof and Flixya also pay submitters of video).