There are of course the big media sites such as Hulu and Netflix, but YouTube is such a strong contender, it’s even going after those guys with channels curated by celebrities and content created by professionals. In the same way we now ‘Google’ something, we also ‘YouTube’ it, and that’s disheartening for the other sites that were once contenders. Perhaps it’s time to take a fresh look at a few of the YouTube alternatives that are still with us.
Dailymotion is very popular, being the second largest video-sharing website in the world. It’s based on France and was started by a guy in his Paris apartment in 2005, the same year YouTube burst on to the scene.
The site feels very similar to YouTube, with a homepage featuring trending videos, a set of different categories, and a visible search bar. Clicking on a video brings up a clean and simple player, though it lacks some of the finesse YouTube’s player possesses.
The selection of videos available to watch is good, although it’s nowhere near as varied or numerous as what YouTube has to offer. I’d suggest the vast majority of clips you can find on Dailymotion can also be found on YouTube.
It’s these similarities to YouTube that are both Dailymotion’s biggest strength and biggest weakness. If you’re looking for a direct alternative it’s the most likely to fill the void, but it also means it struggles to find its true identity.
One Word Review: Clone.
Metacafe began life in 2003, with two Israeli entrepreneurs starting the site in Tel Aviv. It’s now based in San Francisco, and early on switched from the YouTube/Dailymotion model to a more-curated platform for original shortform videos.
The site has a very different feel to YouTube, and is immediately weighed down by a busy homepage dominated (at the time of writing) by a banner ad. Beyond that there are dropdown menus for ‘Movies’, ‘Games’, and ‘Music’, as well as a selection of other channels.
Like YouTube it’s pretty hard to stop clicking around the site once you set off doing so. One video inevitably links to another that you’ll be interested in watching. There are original shows to be seen but YouTube has since muscled in on that market.
I like Metacafe but again it’s pretty hard to distinguish it from YouTube. To get the most from the site seek out the originals, exclusives, and partner channels. Otherwise it’s a definite case of YouTube Lite.
One Word Review: Original?
Vimeo, which is literally the word ‘video’ with ‘me’ stuffed in the middle, is a U.S.-based website launched in late 2004. It’s not really a direct competitor to YouTube, having taken a more subtle approach that puts the onus on quality rather than quantity.
The Vimeo homepage is a strange beast, being more about selling the site to casual passers-by than promoting the content hidden within. However, by hovering over ‘Explore’ you can see the categories and channels that are where the visual goodness resides.
Vimeo isn’t the place to go if you want to see cats acting crazy or dogs running on treadmills. They may be there if you look hard enough but Vimeo is more about classy short films, experimental music videos, or snapshots of interesting people’s interesting lives.
The best thing about Vimeo is the player, which places the video front and center, keeping all the extraneous crap to a minimum. There are enough options to keep you clicking, but this is the one site that shows the videos to their full potentials.
One Word Review: Classy.
Veoh is a San Diego-based website that launched in beta in 2006. It has changed much since its debut, now being a subsidiary of Qlipso. Its content is a strange mix of movies, music, and user-generated content.
The Veoh homepage is, if anything, a little too simplistic. There are a few selected videos presented in thumbnail form but beyond that it’s difficult to know where to begin. Clicking on one of the dropdown menus is the only way to proceed but even that isn’t guaranteed to get you far.
There are ‘Channels’ and ‘Movies’, but they’ll invariably lead to clips rather than full-length episodes of television shows or films. The ‘Music’ and ‘Videos’ tabs are more worthy of exploring, but only just.
One Word Review: Confused.
Blip is another site that launched around the same time as YouTube but that has since walked a different path. Founded in 2005 and based in New York City, Blip focuses on offering a platform for producers of original Web series.
The Blip homepage sets the site’s stall out from the start, highlighting the latest episodes of various of the Web series that makes up the bulk of Blip’s content. This is a good strategy as clicking on one episode could get you hooked and needing to watch more of the same series.
Like Vimeo, Blip lets the videos breathe with a player that automatically dims the lights. All of the various shows are organized by category, which means it’s easy to find original programming that is likely to appeal to your interests or sensibilities.
One Word Review: Episodic.
All of these sites will have been mentioned – whether highlighted or just in passing – on MakeUseOf already, but I suspect many people will have forgotten they even exist. Let’s be frank and admit none of them can compete with YouTube in terms of popularity, brand-awareness, and the sheer number of videos, but they’re also not ready to be condemned to the dustbin of history.
Do you ever head for an online video site other than YouTube? If so, is it one of the above or one that hasn’t been featured? If you do head away from YouTube, what are your reasons for doing so? After all, as long as it doesn’t infringe on copyrights any video you care to mention makes it onto the Google-owned site. Whatever your thoughts on the subject please let us know in the comments section below.
Image Credit: Maurits Knook
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