Cloudflare Stream to Kill YouTube

Cloudflare has now put into beta their own video delivery platform. On the surface level there doesn’t seem to be a lot to say.  Essentially this is their take on video streaming using technologies they find most appropriate. How the tech specs will work out at the end of the day is probably near irrelevant for end users and content creators since video delivery technology at this point in time is rather stable and robust. Why this is important at a high level is that Cloudflare is a well known, well regarded, internet infrastructure company that has done a good job at the difficult task of DDoS mitigation.  In technology having a known brandname can be half the battle for a business, and simply stamping the Cloudflare name on a video platform gives it a credibility sites like do not share.  Additionally from the buildout and scaling standpoint Cloudfare already employs top flight engineers to be able to support the project, and can pull from a well of funding where they can sell their overall vision vs. a single product.

This is well and good, but you’re asking why this matters to YouTube.  The issue for YouTube is that they have gone from offering a service that was hard or near impossible to compete against to one that almost anyone can try to spin up a competitor to.  As said I’ve been doing video creation for 8 years and have gone from hosting my own servers, to paying for expensive shared hosting solution, to going to YouTube, to now paying $50 per month for Vimeo.  Video delivery has gone from something that would cost thousands of dollars, and real engineering for a site to provide, down to a $50 credit card bill. At the same time this has happened YouTube has become a worse environment for creators.  The ironic thing that YouTube has taught creators is that creators are better off finding their own income streams.  YouTube promotes crowd funding, merchandise sales, and direct sponsorship of content.  They actually push creators to find ways to earn revenue that do not have YouTube in the middle.  Combine this with an absolute disregard for the needs and well being of creators that have chosen to create content full time and you end up in a situation where creators are able to consider focusing on their own platform’s instead of helping to build YouTube.

Imagine creators with their own platforms where they can offer video, text, control their advertising slots, have built in email newsletter capability and even setup complete forums.  If creators are creating content in order to build a “community” is it better to do it on fickle YouTube, or a platform you control.  If Couldflare can offer drag and drop video delivery for a reasonable price it could be the video backend creators have been looking for.

Personally I use Vimeo, but there is an administrative learning curve to it, and as with all products it has it good and bad points.  Honestly I really like the concept of VideoPress where you literally just upload to VideoPress and then you get an embed code, unfortunately it seems VideoPress was coded by a bunch of 9 years olds because simply uploading a video for me fails near half the time. I think Cloudflare could win this game, or at least take a big chunk, simply by providing a robust service and by making it “Apple” easy. If they make my standard workflow be: Drag -> Drop -> Embed then that;’s a winner in my book.

In an age when the major platforms have shown their total disregard for the creators and users that built them I believe that the Services model of content delivery will win out.  I put my name in for the Cloudflare Stream beta and I’d say anyone interested in delivering video should too.

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