Goliath, meet David.
It's hard to imagine a new platform luring content creators away from the Google/YouTube behemoth. Much as creators rail against the perceived imbalance of their value proposition, it's impossible to resist the appeal of YouTube's enormous reach. Sure, smaller platforms like Vimeo that have carved a niche in the quality content space and aggregators like Vessel that have come up a with a new business model based on YouTube content, but in the free, open- access video space there are no challengers. So its interesting to see a platform like Unreel popping its head up.
Unreel takes the high ground straight off the bat, with talk about "..replacing an outdated distribution model.." (code for YouTube) - talk usually applied to traditional film and video distributors. But I guess YouTube's been around 15 odd years now, so could they be right?
So what's their game?
Taking on YouTube is David and Goliath writ large. The value in YouTube is in it's ubiquitous platform, plus the smarts that sit behind the player - the channel recommendations, analytics and of course Google Adsense.
Last year there was a wave of dissent around the YouTube revenue share model. Maybe the launch of YouTube Red and the possibility that content creators could get their hands on some of that cash has damped it down a bit, but platforms like Unreel tap into that undercurrent.
Unreel.me is a free platform that lets content creators build their own microsite. It accepts video uploads directly, plus feeds from YouTube, Facebook and any other platform. Creators can deploy advertising, paywalls, subscriptions and merchandise sales on their sites.
A Million Dollar Fund Sweetener
Cunningly, Unreel launched a million dollar Creator Appreciation Fund that will underwrite the monetisation of content. It works like this - Unreel.me will waive their revenue share for early adopters on the platform, up to a million dollars. After that, the revenue split will be 85/15 in favour of the creator. Of course, that couldn't apply to content that is aggregated from YouTube or Facebook, could it.
As I see it, the opportunity with Unreel is to build a brand on YouTube and then migrate your fans to a platform that could offer better returns on future native videos.
Can you really bring your fans off YouTube and take them somewhere else? Will this be another short-lived startup that will join the obituary lengthy column of social video startups? Or will it be a genuine replacement for an outdated platform?
Why we need Unreels
Win, lose or draw, online content creators need outfits like Unreel to push YouTube into a bit of soul searching.
Why don't Australian video entrepreneurs come up with platforms like Unreel? We make great content, but few businesses based on it.
But that's for another day.