Less than a year after launching it, YouTube has put its Realtime Sharing feature to bed… permanently. We most recently wrote about the service when we were covering SynchTube back in January of this year. While there were differences between the two products, SynchTube was the better offering in my opinion.
Seems that opinion is shared by the user community, because I somehow don't see YouTube killing a service that is popular and heavily trafficked. It seems that Realtime Sharing was intended to function like the Facebook status bar that tells you when your friends are online—a sort of toolbar to promote community and make sharing videos with friends a snap.
YouTube isn't saying why they pulled the plug—they offer only a generic statement about how some new features are popular and some are not. It's worth pointing out that Realtime Sharing was never available to the general public, but was instead an invite-only service.
It's likely that YouTube realized the users were already pretty set in their video-sharing ways, preferring to use Facebook or Twitter or the other social services already fully-adopted by users.
While one service bites the dust, another gets a big boost, as YouTube is now apparently rolling out the Rentals program to more content producers. You might remember the reports in February of this year that showed the service had netted $10,000 in profit—something that prompted a large portion of the web to break out in guffaws.
Not laughing was YouTube, who had evidently seen enough during that initial test to tell them they were onto something.
Users on the Rentals system are able to set their own rental window (length of time a person who rents your video has to view it before it's gone) and price (between $0.99 and $19.99)—you'll split your revenue with YouTube, by the way… not unlike selling your book on Amazon.
Until your rental is approved, it continues to be free to the general YouTube public. So it sounds like there is a lot of approving going on—you must be approved to be part of the Rentals program, and then your videos must be approved as well. From there… I guess you're off to making money with your videos.
While I'm still not sure people are willing to pay to watch unproven videos made by other users, I do think the Rentals program is a great idea for helping content creators (and YouTube) make a little money. And if YouTube plays the role of gatekeeper well enough in their approval process, they can help ensure the content available for rent remains of good quality.
You can learn more about the Rentals program, or apply to participate, by going here.