Detroit-based Glocal came out of beta Wednesday with big ambitions: The website wants to be to local video what Hulu is to TV shows. “Online local video really doesn’t have a space besides YouTube,” Glocal President Lincoln Cavalieri told me during a phone call this week. Glocal wants to change that by offering local video publishers including newspapers, TV stations, citizen journalists and nonprofits a chance to address an audience in their home town.
The site allows users to find their town on a map and then customize their own local feed with sources from categories like news, tech and entertainment. It is launching with content in 60 cities and a total of 1900 providers – but don’t be surprised if you feel like you’ve seen some of these videos before. Glocal is seeding its site with a lot of content pulled from YouTube, but Cavalieri told me that the goal is to eventually sign up publishers for their own site and get their content exclusively.
So why should publishers decide to put their videos on Glocal, and not YouTube? Cavalieri told me that he thinks local content gets lost on the Google-owned video site. He also believes that he can unlock content from local publishers that have been hesitant to put their assets online, in part because he wants to help them monetize it through a yet-to-be-launched ad network aimed at local advertisers. “Our platform is more conductive to monetization than YouTube,” he said.
Glocal was built by a team of four, and has been backed with a $1 million seed round by Compuware Ventures. Does a small, scrappy startup from Detroit have a chance to compete with the big boys? To be honest, I’m sceptical. However, the local focus of the site is a good reminder that online video doesn’t have to be about those big success stories that are popular everywhere.