Yahoo to poach YouTube stars for new video service

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Image: Magnus Hoij/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: Magnus Hoij/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Money makes the world go ’round, and Yahoo knows it. Today Recode is reporting that Yahoo will soon launch a new video service to take on YouTube. And while that might sound like a laughable endeavour, with YouTube yet to have a competitor steal their mainstream userbase, the company is hoping that the popularity of YouTube’s own stars is more important than the popularity of YouTube itself.

Though the plan on poaching YouTuber’s for a new service is not just risky for Yahoo, but also for the creators themselves. Playing with audiences might not create a positive image for Yahoo, as seen with the acquisition of Tumblr recently, especially if Yahoo’s service doesn’t have feature parity with YouTube. After all, YouTube is available on practically every internet-connected device, whereas Yahoo won’t be from day one.

While YouTube is entitled to a cut from ads, many content creators, such as Vox Media or RocketJump, use alternative services for on-site content, and find that this provides them with better control, and at a competitive price. Yahoo hopes to give disgruntled YouTube creators either higher revenue for content, or guaranteed ad rates, a proposition which, alone, could entice popular users, though it still might not be enough.

The service isn’t a clone either, with Yahoo’s launch ambitions ruling out an open service. Rather, Yahoo will just curate content, restricting uploads to established brands. As YouTube users upload 100 hours of content every day, a restriction like this can only hurt the potential for new talent. So while you might be able to find a big tech blog on the site, you won’t see independent blogs like TechGeek uploading video from day one. And you won’t see the next big viral video on Yahoo, until they poach that too.

Yahoo has already shown its ability to distribute content through their Yahoo Screen app, where the company provides access to SNL content, as well as other catch-up and original video, though this is a much bigger step in bringing the Yahoo brand back to relevance. Though how the new service will work isn’t yet known. It may simply be the same content-management system as Yahoo Screen, though there is also a possibility that Yahoo might purchase an existing competitor like Vimeo.

The news is just another sign that CEO Marissa Mayer is happy to clone existing Google services or to acquire pre-existing services, rather than to create completely new products internally. While this new step might help their brand, it might also just annoy users who shouldn’t have to be forced to use Yahoo products. While YouTube isn’t perfect, it sure as hell as a better track record than Yahoo. And it works.