Revver’s sale at a loss indicates online video monetization is difficult. (Not impossible.)

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The WSJ among others reported on Revver’s sale to LiveUniverse for $5 million, a loss from the total of $12.7 MM invested in the project.

What went wrong with Revver?

  • Clear overspend: I’m confused as to why they needed $12.7 MM in capital funding. Reportedly they only gave $1 million toward content creators since project inception and this $12.7 MM figure doesn’t include any revenue from ads. Overspend on payroll (people), hardware and office space?
  • Lack of differentiation: What does Revver offer that YouTube doesn’t? Higher quality? Perhaps. But since they don’t allow copyrighted content this nixes a huge amount clips provided by YouTube: Network TV and clips from copyrighted films or other media.
  • Poor monetization: This is conjecture as these internal figures are impossible to acquire. It seems as though Revver has a hard time commanding high CPMs for its ad inventory. A quick check right now shows they’re running Google network ads on their premium placed content. Didn’t they spend some of that $12.7 MM on ad reps that cater to media agencies? Why aren’t they running premium brand campaigns on their site?
  • Inadequate momentum: The network effect or the “oomph” that draws both content producers and end-user viewers didn’t seem to be there. Undoubtedly, this is tough to create, especially when YouTube is the dominant gorilla in the room.

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