blip.tv is a video sharing service designed for creators of user-generated content. blip.tv provides content creators with free hosting, support for a variety of video formats, distribution using technologies like RSS and an opt-in advertising program with a 50/50 revenue share. blip.tv focuses on "episodic content" or "shows," rather than viral video.
In addition to its public services at www.blip.tv, the company also offers private label technology solutions for traditional media companies who want to integrate user-generated content into their existing platforms. Customers include Turner Broadcasting and Conde Nast .
blip.tv was founded in May 2005 by Mike Hudack (CEO), Dina Kaplan (COO), Justin Day (CTO), Jared Klett and Charles Hope. The unusually large group of founders had been working together building knowledge-management software when they joined the Yahoo! Videoblogging Group and found that hundreds of videobloggers were creating high-quality independent video content for Web distribution. In the team's opinion existing software and services didn't meet videobloggers needs. They launched the first version of blip.tv the following week, based on their existing knowledge management software .
The founders "bootstrapped" the company for the first six months of its operation, working on the project part-time on nights and weekends. The company formally announced it had received angel funding in July of 2006 but did not reveal its investors or the amount of its funding . In statements on mailing lists and in their blog, however, the company had made it clear prior to July of 2006 that they had been funded.
Shortly after announcing its funding, blip.tv announced that CNN had licensed its platform to power user-generated content ingest and management for CNN iReport, the cable network's citizen journalism initiative . The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The company now maintains offices in New York City's SoHo neighborhood. It appears to be operating on angel financing alone, at least insomuch as it has not announced a venture capital fundraising round, unlike most or all of its competitors. "We have been very carefully growing the business and hiring as we make money," says Hudack .
blip.tv has grown out of the "videoblogging community" and concentrates its sales, marketing and technology efforts on serving this community. The founders have often talked about how they focus on content creators making "serialized content" or "shows" rather than "viral video" or "friends and family" video. "The blip.tv formula purposefully does not emulate the YouTube viral video sharing and friends and family video hosting model," ZDNet blogger Donna Bogatin recently wrote .
Bogatin's article also focuses on other aspects of blip.tv's philosophy, including blip.tv's ideal of placing video content creators "in control at all times." This leads to a sometimes dizzying array of options and controls in blip.tv's user "dashboard," including esoteric preferences regarding video formats such as Ogg.
blip.tv's distribution options, advertising options and video format choices are all subject to user control. In an interesting break from this philosophy, however, blip.tv does not allow users to choose whether to make a video public or not -- all videos are immediately and widely publicly viewable.
blip.tv's terms of service state that uploaders to the service retain all copyrights of their videos. By uploading the videos, the creator gives blip.tv a revocable right to host and distribute the video on the user's behalf, but that right can be revoked by the content creator by deleting the video from the service. That said, the video remains on blip.tv's servers after deletion (but unavailable to the outside world). Users must e-mail blip.tv support to request complete video removal.
In addition to the base license users give to blip.tv by uploading their work, users can also choose from a number of Creative Commons licenses to apply to their videos. Creative Commons search uses blip.tv for its video search platform.
In general, blip.tv is an open platform. It offers direct download links for all videos it hosts, including videos that it has transcoded (i.e. Flash videos). This led Creative Commons founder Larry Lessig to call blip.tv a "true sharing site" (along with Flickr and Eyespot, among others) in contrast to YouTube's "fake sharing site" because blip.tv "explicitly offers links to download various formats of the videos it shares."
In addition to offering direct downloads of videos from its Web interface, blip.tv also offers RSS feeds which include "enclosures" for all video formats. The blip.tv Web site supports a number of open metadata standards, including microformats, RSS, Atom and JSON.
In particular, it's notable that blip.tv doesn't "lock down" uploaded content and prevent it from being reshared on other Web sites without attribution to the hosting service. The blip.tv Flash player does not include a blip.tv logo, and the Flash video content can be easily and seamlessly separated from the blip.tv Flash player without the use of special software.
In May 2006 Fernando Cassia of The Inquirer "called out" blip.tv in an e-mail accusing the company of talking about open media without actually supporting it because "you encode your videos in proprietary, closed formats like Windows Media, Quicktime or Flash." Cassia challenged blip to use Ogg Theora, a "free as in free beer, open source as in freedom, and patent-free [video] codec.
Twenty-four hours later Justin Day responded by saying "You've called us out, and we have responded. While most of our friends and neighbors were enjoying the sunny extended weekend, we spent it indoors making sure we live up to our credo. We will be releasing Ogg Theora support on blip.tv tomorrow, using the Cortado Java applet player." Several blip.tv shows now upload in Ogg Theora format, including Geek Entertainment TV.
blip.tv has been a consistent patron of the videoblogging community. The staff regularly participates in the Yahoo! Videoblogging Group and the company has consistently been the first sponsor signed up for significant community events like Vloggercon and the Vloggies.
blip.tv is designed for prosumer video producers, particularly those creating "episodic content." It therefore offers many options, sometimes in an overwhelming manner.
Uploads may be made via a Web interface, FTP, from a mobile phone (through an e-mail address), a client-side batch uploader (Java, with versions available for Mac OS X and Windows) and through a version of the Internet Archive advance contribution interface. Uploads can be audio or video files in formats including Quicktime, MPEG, 3gp, DivX, Real Media, WMV, mp3 or Ogg. Uploads through the Web interface can include multiple versions of the same video, i.e. in Quicktime, WMV and 3gp versions.
The blip.tv FAQ states that recommended maximum file size is 150mb, though there are no hard limits; in practice blip.tv accepts uploads up to 1 gigabyte. Transcodes of larger video files may fail, leaving only the user-uploaded version viewable.
Uploaded files are made available on www.blip.tv and [username].blip.tv immediately, and a transcoded Flash video version is made available five to fifteen minutes later. Users can choose whether to display the transcoded Flash version by default, or their original video version.
blip.tv makes all uploaded video files available on its destination site and on a video blog it creates for all users, found at [username].blip.tv. Videos are available for viewing immediately after uploading in both of these interfaces. blip.tv also offers copy and paste HTML for placing videos on other Web sites, a feature it calls "cross-posting" to automatically syndicate videos to other Web sites, and RSS feeds for the syndication of user videos to aggregators.
After uploading, users are presented with HTML code that can be copy and pasted into any Web site, including blogging systems. There are four or more presentation options for the copy & pasted video, including an "inline player" (similar to other video services), a "thumbnail flipper" (which displays a thumbnail which, when clicked, turns into a video player) and a "pop-up player" (which displays a thumbnail which, when clicked, opens a pop-up window with the video playing within it.
Users of the copy & paste HTML can choose a "preferred video format" to display. If that preferred video format is not available, blip.tv will fall back to what it considers the "next best" format for display. Users can, for example, copy and paste a video into their Web site before Flash video transcoding is completed but indicate that Flash video is their "preferred format." Under this scenario another version of the video will be displayed (QuickTime, for example) until the Flash transcoded version is available. At that time the Flash version will be presented to viewers.
blip.tv uses publicly published APIs to automatically publish videos to a number of systems, including blogging platforms like Movable Type, WordPress and Blogger. Users can set up cross-posting in their blip.tv preferences by sharing information about the platform they want to publish to, like the username and password they use to login to the platform. From that point, the Web-based upload form and the client-side batch uploader present checkboxes as part of the interface to publish the uploaded video to those destinations. Once the video is uploaded, software runs in the background to publish the video to the destinations.
Supported destinations include:
blip.tv can automatically upload videos to the Internet Archive for users who have both blip.tv accounts and Internet Archive accounts. The premise behind this feature is that it allows users to feel safe that their video will be available for the long-term, even if blip.tv's servers experience problems or the company goes out of business.
Cross-uploading works in much the same manner as cross-posting, but can be somewhat unreliable because of software communication issues with the Archive. The Internet Archive recently created a blip.tv collection dedicated to videos cross-uploaded through blip.tv.
blip.tv offers every user RSS feeds of their videos. The RSS feeds include enclosures to allow software programs like iTunes to automatically download and play the videos. blip.tv's RSS feeds also use Media RSS to include information about other versions of the video, including the Flash version.
blip.tv has partnered with Akimbo to offer "top" blip.tv shows on Akimbo set-top boxes
blip.tv allows users to opt into its advertising program, which is divided into two strata. For "high-end" content producers (as arbitrarily determined by blip.tv) the company will sell sponsorships in cooperation with the content producer. These sponsorships may include product endorsement, host statements or product placement.
For all other content producers, blip.tv offers an "advertising marketplace" which allows users to opt into specific advertising formats and advertising partners. Options include post-roll and player-adjacent advertisements.
All revenue from advertising is split 50/50 between content producers and blip.tv. Users can opt in and out of advertisements at any time.
Prominent shows on blip.tv include SILLY GILLMAN Amanda Congdon's Amanda Across America (the former host of Rocketboom), Goodnight Burbank, Break a Leg, Governor Tom Vilsack and A Story of Healing. Users include Jeff Jarvis, Marc Canter and Dave Winer.
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