Youtube.com co-founder Chad Hurley announced Saturday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that the $1.65 billion company will share profits with some of its users.
Millions of people log on to the Web site every day and watch their favorite clips of movies, TV shows, music videos and amateur filmmaking on the wildly successful site http://www.youtube.com.
But Hurley has yet to explain how and when users will receive the big payback, which leaves some frequent users with questions.
“I want to know whether we would have to pay for the videos now,” said Carlos Sands, 18, a freshman civil engineering student from Miami. “I know that once they start paying out the money they’ve got to have more coming in some kind of way.”
Sands said he uses the online video service at least three times weekly to catch up on the latest episodes of the CW’s “Smallville.”
“If they add advertisements to the videos, people wouldn’t watch it as much,” Sands said. “I know I don’t want to watch commercials while I’m waiting to see some short comedy clip.”
Other students are excited at the prospect.
Richshanna Rich, 21, a senior business administration student from Jacksonville, said she thinks paying people to upload videos is a smart move for the company, which was recently acquired by Google.
“Right now I watch a lot of old-school music videos and some of them have really bad quality – like you can hardly see them,” Rich said. “I would submit a lot of the old school videos I download off the ‘Net to add some variety because all I see are mostly popular songs.”
Competing Web site revver.com is already in the game of giving back to its users.
The site purports that if video is uploaded, the company will attach an ad connected to the target demographic and split the ad revenues with the video provider 50/50.
Also, there are benefits to sharing videos, as users are paid for spreading the video around via e-mail or other tools such as myspace.com or facebook.com.
But one local expert in generating revenue on the Internet thinks the YouTube.com model will not shadow its competitor.
Lawrence Bechtel, manager of e-Commerce for FAMU, said YouTube provides an open forum for artisans to express themselves, and along with that the company has to pay to try to get better broadcasting technology.
“The new technology is expensive, but would allow (YouTube) to improve the video quality,” Bechtel said. “It would have not so much amateur video as professional artisans trying to market themselves.”
The site currently makes its revenue off of advertisers, Bechtel said, but with the new infrastructure that may change.
“(To be able to pay users) YouTube is probably going to a bigger bandwidth because you’re looking at very, very high-end technology,” he said. “If the intent is to improve content, I think they’re going to have to charge for access to the better quality video.”
Bechtel said he doesn’t foresee the free video arm of the company becoming obsolete anytime soon.
“I think the free videos would be available in the same format that they always have,” Bechtel said. “(The site would probably) be monthly fee of no more than $20-a-month and the subscribers would likely be professional media outlets.”
So who’s most likely to get a piece of the big payback?
Bechtel said, “What I see is that the artisans are going to get better, and if you can perform well or create great things, YouTube will be a better tool for marketing yourself.”