White-Label Video Co’s: Send Your Picks

26 Comments

Each day we hear about another white-label video service — those friendly people who power video for your site. White-label is the new black; it’s a hugely popular second- or third- or sixth-try business model from people looking to avoid their VCs’ wrath when their YouTube clone hits a wall. Some people say YouTube’s even going to announce one of these Plan B’s next week.

We’ve written about a lot of these enterprise video players, but we know there are more out there. We want to map out the emerging sector and the relative strengths of the participants. Help us out — tell us who you like and why. If you want to pimp your own thing, that’s fine, please just disclose the relationship.

26 Comments

I.R. Kramer

This is one of the most helpful, eye-opening posts I have seen on the topic of “Who’s Who” in Online Video Platforms. I appreciate the information from everyone that contributed to it. But I would second the motion that Liz or someone provide a cost-analysis and some parameters for comparison of the variables involved.

Jody

Liz, it’d be great if you could do a comparison article, including costs, especially for us little guys.

I’ve done research on my own and most of the white-labels charge thousands of dollars a month to get up and running. I’ve recently reached out to Twistage and Fliqz for pricing and support information. (Fliqz makes things easy by saying up front how much they charge.)

If you could do a comparison article, it would really help cut through all the on-line clutter.

Zach Hurst

Hello,

Full disclosure – I am a Co-Founder and Creative Director at 1Dawg, LLC

I ran a user-generated video site in late 2006/early 2007. In that time we scaled to 6 Million unique connections in just under five months. The hosting requirements were outrageously expensive for the bootstrapped start-up we were at that time. During the early part of 2007 there was a lot of speculation regarding monetization possibilities for video startups. Google was being dominated by the press with regards to how YouTube was “a bad investment”, video advertising networks didn’t exist yet, and with the recent 1B lawsuit Viacom had slapped on Google; most of the Venture guys crawled into their corners terrified of the DMCA.

I decided to start white-labeling for one reason: I knew my technology was viable, but I needed other people to risk the investment dollars.
When I say “white-label”, I think of a completely branded solution customized to my client’s discretion. The uniqueness in my technology is the fact that we transcode from every known video file format, can customize conversion based on bitrate/resolution and focus on the mobile device market. We believe that 3rd screen is where it’s at. The exact reason why 75% of the users that visited my UGC site were downloading content for iPods, Cell Phones, Zunes, etc. We were also the first user-generated video site to send video on-demand to mobile phones.

I run a boutique firm. We don’t advertise much and we haven’t gotten much press. We have been bootstrapped from the beginning and have a very happy client base. Most of my client’s are based off of referrals. My ideal customer is a startup that would like us to take over their entire IT department. We handle everything from U.I. design to viral marketing. We aren’t just a video distribution platform. We are a full service website design and software development company that just happens to possess a proprietary video transcoding solution. We shave off the 8-12 months of development time and get clients to market in a very short while. Our clients tell us what they want on their sites: social features, video marketplaces, crazy ad systems, etc. We look at every client separately and deliver a stable solution that we guarantee will scale. Our solution isn’t right for everyone, but we have proven to be reliable for a number of companies and we love what we do.

The whole idea behind utilizing white-label solutions is to speed up market timing, yet keep the home-grown image. If anyone is interested in chatting about the online video space, I am happy to answer questions. My direct e-mail is: zhurst (at) gmail

If you are interested in watching a short screen cast of the technology in action, please follow this link:

http://www.1dawgscreencast.com

jeremy pemble

Full disclosure: We are the PR firm (wait…keep reading..don’t hold that against us) for thePlatform, based in Seattle.

Hundreds of professional media companies rely on thePlatform to manage billions of videos every year. thePlatform’s system manages the entire logistics process behind the publication of broadband video from the content owner to the consumer.

Media companies and video sites rely on thePlatform’s services to manage their media, generate revenue from their content, syndicate media to outlets and create unique broadband video players.

Some customers include BBC, CNBC, CBS’s College Sports TV, Comcast, Corus Entertainment, Gannett, Helio, HIT Entertainment, PBS KIDS Sprout, Sony BMG, The Hearst Corporation, Verizon Wireless, Vongo, and numerous other undisclosed media companies.

thePlatform also has the largest collection of pre-integrated partner technologies and an open approach for assisting media companies with their online and mobile video initiatives. Partners involved in thePlatform’s Framework (partner program) include:

Advertising & Monetization
• Adap.TV
• BlackArrow
• CSG Systems
• DoubleClick
• Lightningcast
• Panache
• PayPal
• ScanScout
• SpotXchange

Content Delivery
• Akamai
• BitGravity
• Cisco Systems
• Edgecast Networks
• GridNetworks
• Highwinds
• Internap
• Limelight Networks
• MediaMelon
• OnStream Media

Playback Experience
• Apple Corp.
• Adobe Systems
• Microsoft Corp.
• Move Networks

Transcoding
• Digital Rapids
• On2
• Rhozet
• RipCode
• Telestream

Content Syndication
• AT&T
• Clearspring
• Comcast.net
• GoTV
• iTunes Podcasts
• MobiTV
• MSN Video
• Sprint
• Verizon Wireless
• Yahoo
• YouTube

Professional Services
• Ascertane
• Cypress Consulting
• Genex
• Online Video Service
• Schematic

Digital Asset Management
• ClearStory Systems
• North Plains Systems

Content Protection
• Microsoft Corp.
• Widevine Technologies

Technology companies interested in participating in thePlatform Framework and utilizing its application programming interface (API) should check us out at http://www.thePlatform.com.

Angela Wilson Gyetvan

Hi, Liz: Revver pioneered this space by offering our open API nearly two years ago. Our users include Nine MSN’s “Your Cut” in Australia (entire site powered by Revver), Best Motoring’s GT Channel, and Crash.tv. We just this week released a new Flash API for enhanced applications. And we remain the only open, free and fully-customizable solution that also lets you monetize all your video content. Oh, and no watermarks.

Lisa Bennett

I work at Kaltura – Kaltura offers a full platform that supports basic and advanced online video capabilities including: video creation & management, interaction & collaboration, advertising & monetizing, as well as membership to the Kaltura Network of sharable rich-media content.

In a nutshell, I’d say that our key differentiators are:
– Our platform is open-source, and therefore widely supported and inexpensive
– Our technology is geared towards high degrees of collaboration and interaction allowing sites to significantly increase user engagement
– Our platform is easy to install – adding interactive video to a site takes minutes not days or weeks using the extensions to popular web platforms and reference implementations in PHP and Ruby.

Check out http://www.kaltura.com to learn more.

Michael

I’ll second Twistage. They’ve been a great solution for the sites I work on. Very much a true white label, with an API that our developers have been happy with, and providing many transcoding features on the server-side that other providers forced me to do on my own. Our integration with Drupal has proven quite easy. I should also say they’ve been great to work with, custom building iTunes/podcast features at my request. The quality of the transcodes, and a good set of features that falls between building from scratch and a more canned service are the killers for me.

Other services I’ve used are Brightcove, Vimeo, blip.tv, and YouTube. As a consumer choice I love Vimeo, and use it for all my personal projects. Brightcove’s API is cumbersome, and they seem behind the curve from a technology standpoint, but they have my favorite ad-serving options. blip.tv is good, but not the best for a CMS backend, in my experience.

Rob

I have been using Twistage since my site launch last September and they have been superb. The API is simple to implement and the performance is great. The pricing is very good and structured to help both big and small volume equally well. One of their best attributes though is their support – no problem is too difficult and no question too simple – the guys are friendly and helpful beyond what is expected – they truely are a breath of fresh air.

Steve Rosenbaum

Hmm… well, “White-Label” isn’t what we’re about… but it seems like this is more of a group of platforms and video players… so i’ll throw our hat in the ring.

Magnify’s view is the video is a ‘spark plug’ that creates community engagement, discussion, and participation. So a player is just that – part of a solution.

The good news is this isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ problem, so there’s room for a number of solutions.

We’re very excited about the 32,000 sites that are using Magnify.net to solve a suite of 4 problems.

  1. Video Discovery. Not all sites want to make video, or count on visitors to upload, so being able to find and automatically aggregate and update a dynamic video collection is pretty cool.

  2. Video Hosting. Sure, your visitors want to upload – and you want to make sure you own (and control) those videos. After all submitted content should be special in your community. Magnify Upload is rock solid and free.

  3. Content Management (CMS). This means page layout, rss integration, search, curation, peer review, meta-data management, trouble reports, DMCA compliance, widget integration, webcam uploads and more.

  4. Ad Serving. Once you’ve found video, uploaded video, created video pages, and provided traffic – then you need an ad server that can turn those pages into revenue for you – using your ad network relationships.

Oh, and then there’s member management. Profiles, Reputation System, Opt-In friend lists, Member email blasts, and management of community standards (including approval of comments and reviews if you wish).

Offering a suite of community-centric video services is a great place for us to be. Fast moving, fun, but not really “white label” more like a ‘software as a service’ platform – with a free as our base product.

Looking for more feature and ways to build on Magnify.net? Stay tuned :)

Steve Rosenbaum
CEO
Magnify.net

The Dude

The thing about white label video sites is that most either just give you framework or just give you a player and few give framework plus hosting. Small clients have sites that they cant monetize and only last maybe a year, and most larger clients hire one of these brands as an addition to their in-house CMS.

While this is a nice little service, the real quality is a company that can come and service all of your video hosting, framework and ALL social networking capabilities in one CMS. Reality Digital’s Opus platform is unbeatable. They’re releasing Opus2 soon which will stand out in this emerging market with tons of new features that will further solidify their stance on top of the market in the big boy arena.

Clients: Viacom, Adobe, Hearst, Fox, Comedy Central, MLB, Travel Channel, MTV, VH1

Benjamin

Dear Liz,

I’m Benjamin Wayne, the CEO of Fliqz, you and I have spoken in the past.

I think it’s important to define what we mean by a white-label provider. Presumably we mean a provider whose solution carries either no branding, or allows you to customize the look and feel of your player, uploader, webcam tool, etc. so that it uniquely reflects your brand. This is the white-label promise. Ideally this should extend into status messages, thumbnails, watermarks, messaging, and even loading spinners. And we must mean more than simply the ability to cut and paste an embed code, but rather the ability to have a truly integrated video solution.

A provider should also presumably provide a whole product, meaning:

  • End-users should be able to upload videos from the customer’s site
  • End-users should not be required to re-register on the provider’s site, and customers should not be required to proxy end-user information and credentials
  • Players should be able to be customized in terms of workflow, look and feel, and features
  • Customers should be able to set their own settings for encoding and playback
  • Customers should have insight into statistics, analytics, and end-user behavior
  • Customers should be able to centrally manage their assets
  • Customers should have the ability to approve those videos which post and those which are held back
  • Customers should have the ability to edit, delete, and organize their video assets
  • Customers should have the ability to syndicate their video assets into search engines
    And importantly:
  • Customers should be able to show ads or not, via the ad network of their choice, without being forced to show ads or share revenue
  • Customers should own all of their own video assets
  • Customers should not be forced to display their videos except as they explicitly desire

Once we look at the world in this way, the number of companies providing true solutions narrows considerably.

It’s also important to recognize that while solutions like Brightcove may be superb for CNN’s of the world, they are too costly and too difficult to integrate for the majority of the market. More than 95% of the world’s sites lack the ability to do deep technical integration, or have the financial resources to pay thousands of dollars a month for a video solution. The majority of the market requires inexpensive, plug-and-play solutions that put video within their reach.

Fliqz provides a true white-label solution that is easy to implement, extremely cost-effective, and offers customers the ability to customize every aspect of the user experience. We support many different ad networks, but we force no advertising and no syndication on our customers.

With more than 3,000 customers on the Fliqz platform, we are one of the largest and fastest-growing video solutions providers. Our clients range from large enterprise customers like Major League Baseball, Virtual Tourist and VH1, to small- and medium-sized businesses.

We provide a completely white-label solution, and in the last 30 days, more than 200 clients have built branded video solutions using the Fliqz platform.

And while we think we offer a superior solution, there are other guys we like a lot as well:

  • Brightcove offers a stellar solution for large media companies or companies with proprietary content
  • We hear good things about what Castfire has done with Federated Media
  • Viddler isn’t truly a white-label provider but their quality is great and we like their look and feel
  • Ooyala is starting to do some interesting things and may emerge as a strong provider

There are obviously a lot of companies trying to re-invent themselves as white-label providers as the shake-out of consumer video continues. Very few offer complete white-label solutions.

Companies wishing to learn more about Fliqz should please reach out to us at sales(at)fliqz(dot)com.

Shakir Razak

Hi,

There’s also twistage, Vidiac, possibly Vividas; Sorenson and On2 also provide the tools to do so (inc. Saas -i think!).

There really are a lot of barrel-scrapers.

However, unless they have specific and proprietary technology and products, with white-labeling being just to ease things for clients or showcase the technology, what dfferentiates any of them from simply being bandwidth-wrappers.

That’s why I mentioned the previous 2 companies, Sumo.tv and Forbidden.co.uk with specific unique technology, though everyone might not be aware of that.

There’s also a list on Light-Reading and Lifegoggle of possibly related sites.

Yours kindly,

Shakir Razak

DC

I believe the FeedRoom was one of the first of the white label video solutions, and arguably is one of the largest. They service NYTimes, Conde Nast, The Pentagon, etc. Long list of Tier 1 clients.

Full Disclosure: I’m a former employee of the FeedRoom.

Shakir Razak

Hi Liz,

Forbidden Technologies ( forbidden/co/uk ) have been doing this somewhat for years, well before youtube, though it’s not even their core product.

There’s also Sumo.tv / cellcast/com which has a pretty multi-faceted and unique approach. They have their own destination site (which is doing really well) and a pure white-lable solution where it’s near impossible to tell they mananage a site (including human moderation). They come from a more broadcast and mobile background, so they think differently, with their own technology, and do a lot more than just stick up flash server.

They also operate in India, China, Brazil and in English.

There do seem to be many other who think it’s a hobby, or for local businesses -have they seen how much Brightcove has raised!

Yours kindly,

Shakir Razak

Brian Walsh

Disclosure: I am the CEO and Co-Founder of Castfire!

Castfire was founded in February of 2005 and is a white label, content management system for audio and video. Beyond players, transcoding, and delivery, managing brand consistency, monetization and integration are key attributes of our offering. Our platform allows publishers to build their solution and chose many different services for the final product. In addition, we treat audio and video like a website cms treats text, by separating the content from other assets such as branding, advertising, promotions, and copyright.

Client examples:
KCRW uses their Limelight account for bandwidth/delivery, OpenAds, a flash player (developed by Digitaria), and has fully integrated their Plone CMS with Castfire.
Next New Networks powers all of their networks for Castfire, including distribution through AOL, their sites and Bebo, using their own custom player.
Ask a Ninja, Boing Boing TV, and WebbAlert utilize Federated Media for ad sales, a Castfire player, and Castfire’s integration with Bebo, Facebook, and syndication tools.

In each of the examples above, the delivery is not just through flash, but in downloadable media as well, such as quicktime and mp3.

Feel free to contact me – brian at castfire (dot) com for additional information.

jeff@beatofhawaii.com

We’ve been playing with HD video on our site. Shooting in 1080 on Sony AVCHD. We’ve tried Vimeo, Blip, Smugmug Pro, Youtube and Viddler. We’re settling on Vimeo for now. Seems to give the best results with the least hassles. Easy and fast uploads and transcoding.

Brief comments on the others:

Blip – too slow to load videos (on a paid account) and too many flash conversion errors requiring reloading. Quality not as good as Vimeo.

Smugmug Pro – no flash, not easy to embed in blog, new player coming (they say). Not cheap. Good quality though.

YouTube. Bad quality. Haven’t played with the HD stuff I’ve seen mentioned in the last week or so.

Viddler. Bad quality.

DB

AdBrite released one the first free white-label video platforms/services to market, called AdBrite InVideo, in Jan. ’07. They don’t host video, but they do provide a great system for playing, managing and monetizing videos you may have hosted elsewhere. (Disclosure: I used to work for AdBrite).

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