Dailymotion, video platform or media?

Article  by  Cédric COUSSEAU  •  Published 21.01.2011  •  Updated 27.01.2011
The French Dailymotion, the second video platform in the world after YouTube, has gained footholds in every kind of new content, thanks to various partnerships with record labels and media, and projects that complement traditional television.


Dailymotion: The Challenge of Content

Despite its English-sounding name, Dailymotion is a French video-sharing website. It is both a platform and a social network, although its community component is increasingly trumped by its ability to offer catch-up television. Founded in 2005, the company quickly took over the second spot on the market, behind the Google-owned YouTube. The company has a stock of 15 million online videos, and has benefited from several fund drives, including a unique drive in 2009 from the Fonds stratégique d'investissement (FSI) [Strategic Investment Fund]. With this move, the FSI – of which the Caisse des dépôts et consignations and the State hold respectively 49% and 51% of the shares – thus made its first capital investment to help a digital company's development, especially on an international level.
This openness beyond the national territory has enabled Dailymotion to expand into new advertising markets through access to more and more content. However, the platform does not only rely on users who post snippets of their lives or various montages, which no longer account for most views. Is it still relevant to speak of a social network? This seems to be less and less the case, if this concept defines isolated individuals who meet up on the same site, bringing about a form of collective collaboration. “Only 3% of Dailymotion’s audience comes through the homepage, while over 50% of the traffic comes through a ‘page player’ – a page containing just one video”, according to the blog Work in progress. It is thus more of a host site than a social hub, as its videos are watched elsewhere. However, the fact that many of its videos are “embedded” elsewhere and seen on Facebook makes it clear than Dailymotion is a partner in the “social web”.
But in 2010, Dailymotion has counted more on added-value and “premium” content from partnerships with audiovisual and entertainment professionals (TV networks, radio stations, production companies, record labels, INA, etc.). Between this latter category and amateurs, there is another category of members: “motion makers”, who produce short and animation films, documentaries, short shows, etc. The democratization of audiovisual material and their creativity allows them to offer content of professional quality. For them, the site is a showcase and springboard, as certain “web series” make the transition from the web to the screen. The Palmashow sketches, initially broadcast on Dailymotion, are now also available on Direct 8 every evening. The “Brèves de trottoir” (“sidewalk briefs”), portraits of anonymous Parisians that helped renew the online documentary genre, recognized by the CNC Prize for new media, are now broadcast on the France 3 Île-de-France regional channel.

This process is nothing new: the internet had also served as a springboard for comedian Rémi Gaillard, before the launch of Dailymotion, who went on to work for the MCM television channel. His videos are now housed on Dailymotion, and six of them are ranked in the platform’s top ten most-watched videos.

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Dailymotion and Legality

Nevertheless, at its founding, Dailymotion depended on its non-professional members, who were not always able to check the machine. Like any other work, the videos are subject to copyrights and distribution rights. Users cannot upload to the platform complete or partial footage of television shows, documentaries, major events like the World Cup or the Red Carpet at the Cannes festival, movies, or music videos, unlike what had been the case, especially in the early years of Dailymotion. Following a string of lawsuits brought by rights-holders, the Court of Appeal of Paris ruled in 2009 that, under the Loi pour la confiance dans l'économie numérique (“act on confidence in the digital economy”), the website should be considered not as a publisher but as a host for all the videos available on the website. Though it will not be convicted of counterfeiting, the company thus incurs liability as host if it does not “promptly” withdraw copyrighted content brought to its attention as being of a “patently illegal” nature. And the same goes if the company does not take all necessary measures to prevent any thus removed content from being uploaded to the platform again[+] NoteOmar and Fred/Dailymotion Case, Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris, April 15, 2008; Jean-Yves Lafesse/ Dailymotion Case, Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris, 15 April 2008X .
To comply with the legislation, Dailymotion has concluded several agreements since 2006. The first one was an agreement with the Société civile des producteurs de phonogrammes en France (SPPF; Civil society of French record producers) covering the distribution of music videos, followed, in 2008, by agreements with three creators' associations: Société des auteurs et compositeurs dramatiques (SACD; Society of playwrights and theatre composers), Société civile des auteurs multimédia (SCAM, Civil society of multimedia creators), and Société des Auteurs dans les arts graphiques et plastiques (ADAGP, Graphic and visual arts creators' society). Then came an agreement with Société des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique (SACEM, Society of music writers, composers, and publishers).
Dailymotion has also developed a relationship with television drama producers from the Union syndicale de la production audiovisuelle (USPA, Audiovisual production union). With these agreements, organizations holding rights to the contents or responsible for collecting royalties saw these contents protected and their creators compensated. These agreements also helped Dailymotion deflect the “pirate” image increasingly attributed to it, while continuing to deliver widely varied content to its users that can be viewed freely. Dailymotion has also integrated an audio/video fingerprinting technology developed by the Institut National de l'Audiovisuel (INA) and Audible Magic to detect the uploading of illegal content.
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More and More Content

As with any search engine – Dailymotion is a search engine for images – the site always needs more content, the business logic being to offer the best inventory of videos to attract as many visitors as possible. The bigger the audience, the bigger the company’s ability to monetize the audience, i.e. to have appeal in the eyes of advertisers and drive prices up for advertising space on the website – which generates 100% of the website’s revenues.
To boost the attractiveness of the website with exclusive or high-exposure videos, Dailymotion has found an unbeatable tool for development: partnerships. Several partnerships have been developed with companies such as Warner Music and EMI enabling the site to broadcast, in France and abroad, music videos, concerts and interviews from artists included in these record companies’ catalogues. In turn, these companies benefit from a new medium to promote their artists. David Guetta, Charles Aznavour, and Robbie Williams are already entered in the platform server. "That’s where our own growth comes from: people want direct access to culture, information, and entertainment, bypassing physical media. They want their access to be a la carte, direct, interactive, and free,” Dailymotion CEO Cédric Tournay explained to the newspaper Le Monde (“Trouver des formes de rémunération est un défi.”Monday 2 novembre 2009, Télévision supplement, page 2).
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Toward Copyrighted and Catch-Up TV

A large number of media have also invested the platform, and partnerships have been created with radio stations and television networks, both French and foreign – such as CNN, which goes as far as offering French versions of its major stories. Dailymotion is suitable to capture these media, since it charges no entrance fee. Therefore, there are no royalties or technical fees to pay to be included on the platform. And this web exposure can translate into earnings for these media, since Dailymotion shares half of the advertising revenues generated by views of their videos with them. In some cases, these earnings can run from several dozen to several thousand euros, according to Dailymotion (individual users and “motion makers” can also benefit from this redistribution system if they form their own companies). For a media company such as BFM TV, which puts the news stories and interviews it broadcasts on television on Dailymotion to let viewers watch them again on demand, this compensation becomes an additional source of revenue on content whose production costs have already been absorbed.
But with Dailymotion, media mostly gain visibility through videos, a media support increasingly consumed on the Internet. “Today, people spend an estimated 15% of their time on the web watching videos. Within three years, this figure should reach 25 to 30%,” added Tournay in Le Monde. This media support is readily exchangeable and the rise of social networks further increases its rate of growth. Also, videos can be exported to blogs and websites using embed codes. Brice Hortefeux’s slippage sequence at the UMP’s summer campus watched a million times on the Monde.fr account and Stéphane Guillon’s vitriolic mood notes on France Inter’s account are two illustrations of the potential of videos and the quickness with which they can be shared. Their success is undeniable, even in the absence of pictures, paradoxically. Audio clips from Liliane Bettencourt’s butler revealed by Médiapart and Europe 1’s audio news stories uploaded on Dailymotion with a static illustrative picture allow any other Internet media to import them. This carries the work of radio further and allows radio to reach new audiences. Many people who have watched Stéphane Guillon on Dailymotion have never heard him on a radio station. And these sequences continue to be “watched” weeks after they were uploaded, which makes the Dailymotion platform an effective video catch-up site.
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A Media Like Any Other?

Can Dailymotion be considered as a fully-fledged media? Yes, in the sense that it is a broadcaster as well as a site. However, the platform does not produce content and refuses to do so in order not to compete with partners it craves. “We depend on what our partners provide us,” said Antoine Nazaret, head of Dailymotion’s "News" channel, in an interview with Alice Antheaume for the blog Work in progress. But, “Dailymotion may suggest to its media partners to produce a particular video,” depending on the news stories developing. This is getting close to “cross-media”, with a transversal relationship between traditional television and the Internet, or even to co-branding, since two brands team up to develop a single service. Shows such as "La Tribune BFM Dailymotion" on BFM TV and "Ça vous regarde" on La Chaîne Parlementaire (LCP) allow users to speak on the air by filming themselves and posting their videos on Dailymotion.
The website even offers to broadcast live events for television networks, as was the case with France 24 at the Copenhagen Summit in December 2009. Dailymotion has also started broadcasting free live sports events with the Doha Athletics Indoor World Championships, simultaneously broadcast on Direct 8. Dailymotion did not pay a single cent for this operation: it was done as an exchange with the rights manager, a subsidiary of Lagardère, to bring media attention to the event. Direct 8 could have denounced unfair competition, but it took no such action. This reveals once again how Internet broadcasting and television broadcasting address two very different types of entertainment consumption, each with its own specific audience. Hence viewers are not choosing one over the other: they already have their preference, depending on the time of day, their current location, what they are doing at the time, etc. There are no more eyes available to watch, but most of those who watched the sprinters compete at Doha on Dailymotion could not have watched them on television – because they may have been at work at the time.

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A Diversity of Screens

Once that has been asserted, you simply have to apply it to reap the benefits. The reality TV show “Dilemme” launched simultaneously on W9 and 22 hours a day on the web through an agreement with Dailymotion that illustrates this type of initiative aimed at audiences in front of both their TV and computer screens. An investment in Internet broadcasting allows companies to reach another, often younger audience that can be then sold to advertisers. “(On the web), 50% of the audience is under 35. It’s a much larger ratio than in the general population,” pointed out Martin Rogard, General Manager-France, Dailymotion, in Ouest-France ("La téléréalité va draguer dans le vivier du Net", Thursday, 20 May 2010, p. 1).
The variety of ways people consume video content nowadays is pushing companies to invest in all screens. After computer screens, mobile and living-room TV screens are the new R&D trends for French companies. Dailymotion is not necessarily lagging behind, as it already offers a smartphone application and a channel on the TV offers of access providers Neuf and Numericable. These paths cannot be neglected anymore, not with the rise of mobile surfing, and Google and YouTube’s joint venture, Google TV, aimed at combining television and the Internet. 

Translated from the French by François Couture

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