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The Worldwide Video Revolution Is Happening on Small Screens

Inexpensive access to smartphones is letting people around the world add their voices to the chorus, creating a new wave of user-generated content.

By Tim Siglin

video revolution

Almost a decade later, the promise of a billion-channel universe gave way to the practicalities of only a few thousand being able to make a living from advertising- and sponsor-powered UGC. The internet as a broadcast platform now looks less like a pirate radio operation and more like a video-centric Rube Goldberg contraption on its way to being optimized, tweaked, and duct-taped together until the real internet emerges to strengthen the hand of traditional media intent on delivering via IP rather than across airwaves and satellite dishes.

Still, the urge for a broadcasting revolution— whether it be the narrowcast of years gone by, the nano-broadcast of recent years, or the Facebook Live approach of 2016—survives and thrives in the garages, spare bedrooms, and dorm rooms of the Western world. Coupled with the explosive growth of smartphones in China and the rest of Asia, India, and even Africa, it’s clear that the revolution itself is still alive, playing out at different times in different parts of the world.

Because of that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’re seeing another rise in UGC uploaded to online video platforms around the world. Jeroen Wijering, whose name is synonymous with the JW Player, recently sent me a sample of stats that showed an interesting correlation between unique videos (the majority of which are short, shot on H.264, and uploaded in an MP4 container format) and premium content (mostly long-form content, which is delivered in the HLS format).

“MP4 dominates the unique videos, whereas HLS dominates the time watched,” Wijering said, adding that an upcoming HTML5 report will expand on the use of MP4, HLS, Spark (H.263), and even RTMP. Overall, MP4 accounts for 75 percent of the unique videos on the JW Platform, with HLS only making up 9 percent. But HLS has almost 16 percent of total plays, at the direct expense of MP4 videos (which drop to 61 percent of total plays).

It only stands to reason that, armed with a camera and a way to record and deliver content to the web, the 5 billion global citizens who are just now receiving their smart devices might want to make their voices heard. So maybe this summer will be the glorious summer of our content after all.


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