Remember the YouTube Killers?

The “YouTube killers” of yesteryear have nearly all thrown in the towel. Count MetaCafe into this pantheon. The Israeli video-sharing site enjoyed a brief burst of popularity for its user-generated content, but it couldn’t compete with the Goliath YouTube. It is now morphing into the Metacafe Entertainment Network, a guy-oriented collection of sites focused on entertainment, sports and game-oriented video content. M.E.N.

Metacafe is one of the last survivors from the YouTube Wannabes Era (2005 – 2007). Around the time of YouTube’s explosive rise, came a slew of pretenders. For example, a company called GoFish.com took a shot at producing original reality dating/game shows way before Web series were in vogue. It even went public at one point, then changed business models — sorry, pivoted — in an awkward attempt to become a kid-and-mom-focused ad network. Similarly, Grouper.com arrived on the scene and quickly faded, only to be snatched up by Sony and rebranded as Crackle.com (another guy-oriented site). There was Mania.tv, which folded and then came back from the dead, as well as the Time Warner-backed RipeTV (which is no more). You might have thrown Vimeo into that mix, though it pivoted years ago to become more of an indy film/artist-community platform and has unexpectedly thrived.
The Web’s power players at the time — portals Yahoo, Google and MSN — each had their own string of video failures. But Yahoo Video, MSN Soapbox and even Google Video couldn’t match YouTube’s ease of use, comprehensiveness and cultural momentum. (Google Video may have been ahead of its time — it was selling full-length episodes of CSI before iTunes.)
Somehow, Metacafe, as well as the French-owned Daily Motion have survived. Over the years, Metacafe has gone from a one-time rumored Yahoo acquisition to UGC junk pile to its more recent incarnation — a hub for entertainment and sports clips. The company had even been trying to build out a reputation as an Entertainment Tonight-styled red carpet reporter. Now it seems to be trying to emulate Break Media, which has built a mini-guys-oriented Web empire. Can it work for Metacafe? Perhaps. There is no shortage of guy-oriented Web properties; besides Break there’s UGO, IGN and even Heavy.com is still hanging on. But according to Quantast, Metacafe still reaches over 8 million unique monthly users in the U.S. and nearly 37 million globally. Amazingly, DailyMotion has nearly 100 million global users, per Quantcast. Must be a lot of sports and entertainment lovers picking those sites over YouTube.
Of course, both sites are loaded with pirated video clips, including some questionable. Alas, unlike YouTube, both have Family Friendly filters that can be turned on and off. DailyMotion even labels some videos “explicit.” Yet despite all that, both sites run ads from legitimate brands. Metacafe is currently running campaigns for Paramount’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon DVD and Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Daily Motion is featuring ads for Sony’s PlayStation 3.
“In today’s digital media world, there are two things brand advertisers care about most: close association with premium content and broad reach among a target demographic,” CEO Erick Hachenburg said in a release. “The Metacafe Entertainment Network addresses both priorities and is a natural evolution of our business and shifting media consumption habits from TV to more interactive forms of entertainment.”
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