I remember a few months ago Griftdrift and I were discussing what makes a blog (or a podcast or a news outlet or whatever) popular. My theory was simply that the best content went a long way toward distinguishing an outlet. Alan Cooper called this Best of Market Trumps First to Market.
This article from Podcasting News makes me wonder if that theory is malarkey, and if there are other factors which are more important:
Internet research firm HitWise reports that, while Hulu is getting big shows, it’s not getting big audiences.
Hulu.com., the joint venture between Fox and NBC that provides streaming video content online, came out of beta on March 15 and has seen a steady share of US Internet traffic since:
The site ranked 33 among Multimedia websites last week and 84 among television websites.
While it is often compared with YouTube, YouTube is attracting nearly 300 times more traffic than Hulu.com.
I say this because Hulu has some really excellent content. You can watch entire episodes of professionally-produced television shows from the major networks, including The Daily Show, Family Guy, The Office and The Simpsons. All legal and free and with high quality encoding, unlike on YouTube.
And yet, 1/300 of YouTube's traffic.
Podcasting News posits that the lack of alternative interfaces (podcasts, Apple TV, etc.) is holding Hulu back. I don't think that's true though. YouTube got huge without offering downloadable content or podcasts or access on Apple TV/Tivo/whatever, though some of that stuff has since been implemented.
Maybe you'll say Hulu isn't the best case study because of their early (and arguably ongoing) marketing problems. Fair enough. But that doesn't explain why YouTube is so big and everyone else is so small, despite YouTube's obvious shortcomings (crappy video quality, dependence on illegal content, etc.).
So, if best of market doesn't trump first to market, is it the other way around? Is being first the most important thing? I think one word is enough to discredit that idea: Friendster.
So what is it then? Is it just that YouTube has built a more active community than the other sites? If so, why did it succeed where others have failed?