Is it possible to build a YouTube competitor?



A lot of people complain about the way their videos are handle, but YouTube has a point. It's their platform. You adhere by their rules or you go build your own platform. But is it even possible to build a YouTube competitor today?

The simple answer is no. There are two reasons.

  1. It is expensive to host videos on a large scale.
  2. It is even more expensive to deal with copyright issues.

YouTube started small. I remember not being able to upload my video because it was 11 minutes long. The longest allowed was 10 minutes. Also, there was a limit to the video's resolution. 640 by 480 was a luxury. If you started a video platform today with these limitations, people will laugh at you. Even Disney with its deep pockets had a hard time serving content at a much smaller scale. When they launched Disney+, their servers crashed.

In 2005, the web was young and naive. Hollywood and the music industry thought that YouTube was a fad. Who would have thought it would become the number one media consumption platform in the world. Today, YouTube is eating their lunch money. When you upload copyrighted content, it takes all of a couple minutes for your account to be flagged. The system that flag videos was a 30 million dollars research and development. Your cool new video app doesn’t have this kind of money, does it?

It may not be possible to build YouTube in your garage, but people still build video platforms. Snapchat, Vine, Tiktok. They all used the limitation of resources as a creative challenge. Short videos where quality is not the most pressing thing. In fact they took control away from their users to allow for a controlled experienced. They handle the copyrights issue by being small. Only when they became huge they settled by inviting copyright holders to use the platform to promote themselves.

It's too late to build a YouTube clone from scratch. The bar is already set too high. Instead, there is room for platforms where quality doesn't matter, as long as it is fun.