Techcrunch is reporting that Yahoo Video is making some major changes in the wake of the company''s layoffs this week. Specifically, they seem to be doing away with user-generated content altogether. The upload utility is gone, and users are seeing a special message at the top of the page.
Head on over to Yahoo Video and you'll see an orange banner graphic at the top that looks like this:
If you click that banner, you'll be taken to the main Yahoo Video help center. But clicking on "Notices" at the bottom left brings up this FAQ:
Here's a selection from that FAQ that may or may not help explain what's going on:
Wow. So... while it's receiving a relatively low level of fanfare from Yahoo, this is a major shift in the business model. While YouTube has maintained its dominance as the top destination for user-generated videos, Yahoo Video still had its loyal followers. There are still millions and millions of user-generated clips there.
And if you've used Yahoo Video for your clips but haven't kept a copy of the videos stored locally... you have some work cut out for you. You have until March 14 to use their new download tool to make sure you have a copy before it all disappears. (I do give Yahoo credit for offering this utility immediately upon making their announcement).
One can't help but instantly start spitting out questions. Does this mean that the Video division was one of the hardest hit in the layoffs? Was user-generated video too much to police for copyright issues? Is this the beginning of the end of Yahoo Video?
It's obviously too early to call this the end of Yahoo Video. They still do a lot of work with branded video content (like the movie trailer exclusives they seem to get all the time). But this is still huge. It's basically wiping out 50% of their mission--they're axing user videos and focusing solely on videos they create, promote, and host in partnership with other brands.
A lot of video marketing professionals that I know were fans of Yahoo Video for one reason or another, and I personally felt like I got pretty good SEO results using their platform. But now that's a thing of the past. It'll be interesting to see what Yahoo Video becomes in March and beyond. Will it veer more towards a Hulu-type destination for branded content? Will users fall off once they realize they can't upload their own clips? However it all shakes out... this is a big change in the world of online video, and one that can't really be seen as a completely positive shift for the overall direction and future of Yahoo. If you have any insight or even pure speculation on this move, please let us know in the comments.