Google Will Stream Video, Which Should Worry Apple and Amazon

Last Updated Sep 13, 2010 3:02 PM EDT

Google (GOOG) will finally roll out a trial of a streaming video service on YouTube with four media partners. That means Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), telecoms, cable companies, and others already in the video business had better pay attention. Should Google break loose of its stumbling guess-we're-still-in-beta ways, it will become an enormous force in paid video.

YouTube is already the major video site on the Internet, so Google has hundreds of millions of people stopping by, which is its monstrous advantage. Consumers are used to channel surfing, but they also like convenience. Given the company's presence, you can bet that video producers will find some level of cooperation a necessity. Add Google's TV service and its plans to release its own TV box, and you've got a potentially fearsome combination.

It's not that live streaming is completely new to Google. Groups have streamed particular events over YouTube in the past. However, now Google expects to open streaming to all its partners over time, after analyzing usage data to see what works and what doesn't.

The term partners has a wide interpretation and includes individuals who create popular videos as well as large organizations. But when you look at the numbers of views some get, you start to realize just how much pull Google has with video producers including and beyond the usual cast of characters. Here's a list of YouTube's top ten video partner names and the number of views their videos have received (disclosure -- CBS Interactive (CBS) is the parent company of BNET):

  • VEVO, 21.12 billion
  • Machinima (gaming-related videos), 1.42 billion
  • ExpertVillage, 1.38 billion
  • HollywoodRecords, 1.18 billion
  • FailBlog, 1.17 billion
  • CBS, 780.7 million
  • MondoMedia, 694.3 million
  • EMIMusic, 634.6 million
  • UltraRecords, 594.9 million
  • Fred (a teenager who creates his own material), 573.2 million
One reason Amazon and Apple have been successful in media sales is because they've both become places that people go for what they want. It's a huge advantage. Cable companies and telcos have similar advantages by having been in place for decades and by operating near monopolies in geographic areas.

Google's advantage is that, for hundreds and hundreds of millions of consumers, it has become the place to go for video. It already has partnerships with names old mainstream media and the up and coming face of individuals who have shown that they don't need major studio backing to accumulate an audience.

Furthermore, Google has big incentives. After five years, YouTube still loses money. Google's growth has flattened out. Video is at least as big a part of its future as mobile and the company can't afford to let it falter. That doesn't mean CEO Eric Schmidt and his management team will pull it off. But they will put a lot of resources into making it work, and Google has money and talented people to spare. Should the company start to understand how to really market and communicate, it has as good a chance as any other company to dominate the future of media.

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Images: RGBStock.com users Berenika, and woodsy, site standard license. Editing: Erik Sherman.
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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.