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YouTube: Tango Review

Posted on Monday, May 15th 2006

YouTube is all the rage these days and Sequoia is betting heavily on the company fetching them a large, portfolio-making exit. Not a day passes by without their video upload and viewership numbers being touted in the media.

This weekend, I did a small experiment on YouTube, to see how much of the content on it is garbage, versus, what is quality. To do this, I picked a genre that I know well: the Argentine Tango.

I found a few reasonable quality dance clips with famous dancers like Miguel Angel Zotto, Milena Plebs, etc. but conspicuously absent were , Omar Vega, Graciela Gonzalez, Cecilia Gonzalez, Nito & Elba … many, many others, except a smattering.

Here is the most beautiful clip that I found, though, of Natacha Poberaj and Jesus Velazquez from Miguel Angel Zotto’s Tango x 2 video of Una noche de tango. I also found a great animation clip of an Oscar winning Polish short film.

There were clips from Forever Tango, Luis Bravo’s famous broadway show, legal or not, and from Sally Potter’s Tango Lesson. The latter is of terrible video quality, although great content.

Out of 1002 search results that matched the “Tango” keyword, my guess is there are about 20-30 videos of any quality. That’s 3% at best.

The rest? Crap, of course.

How do you monetize crap? I suspect, the answer is: You Don’t.

So, from now on, whatever YouTube statistics I see, I will discount it by 97%, and see if the numbers still look interesting. And those calculating valuations should also use similar Crap Tests to adjust the traffic stats.

On the other hand, if YouTube decided to focus on building up high quality within each genre, and making appropriate copyright and monetization prospects viable, then this could well be a meaningful way to build up special interest groups aligned with their passions.

Advertisers love that!

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Your experiment with YouTube videos is similar to many I have performed myself. It also illustrates how ranking to the top of the list those videos that happen to have been viewed by more visitors is a very poor way to categorize this media genre. Unlike movies where bad viewing experiences do impact future viewership stats (through word of mouth and other feedback), no equivalent quality feedback system seem to exist at the moment.

Eric Benhamou Wednesday, May 17, 2006 at 12:28 AM PT

Yes, instead, high viewership stats tend to mislead the new viewers. This is relatively easily fixable, though. They are asking for Ratings and Comments. At the moment, however, they are not using these parameters effectively at all.

Sramana Mitra Wednesday, May 17, 2006 at 1:15 AM PT