Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Why Vevo’s First Day Flub Isn’t a Total Disaster

Vevo, big music’s new video site, had a big party last night. Today it has a hangover. Visitors to the site are encountering all sorts of problems, the most serious being that it doesn’t seem to work.

The Vevo team studiously took notes from Hulu leading up to the launch. That’s why, for instance, the company made the antitrust-appeasing move of bringing in a financial investor alongside content owners Universal Music and Sony (SNE).

But it got this part all wrong. Hulu had a (high-profile) alpha launch for months before it opened to the masses. Vevo opened for business on a single day, and promptly broke.

The relationship between Vevo and Schematic, the shop that built much of the site, wasn’t great to begin with–earlier this fall, there was some internal fingerpointing about cost overruns and/or delays–and I can’t imagine that this will make things any better.

But for the record, here’s Vevo’s “Hey! Chill out! We’re working on it!” message:

The traffic VEVO.com is experiencing right now has exceeded even our largest expectations and is multiple orders of magnitude above what any other online video service has generated at its launch. The VEVO team is working diligently to enhance the infrastructure required to more than meet the demands of the tens of millions of users who are trying to access the site on day one.

Still, this isn’t a total wipeout for Vevo. Because while everyone has rightly been flocking to Vevo.com itself for a look-see, it’s not the most important Web site for the joint venture. That would be YouTube, where most Vevo users are actually going to encounter–and watch–Vevo videos, without even knowing that they’re watching a Vevo video.

To be clear: When Google’s (GOOG) video site agreed to help Universal Music Group (and later Sony) launch a new hub for music videos, it didn’t mean it would be sending its users away from YouTube.

When you read about Vevo launching with 400 million video views in the first month, understand that the majority of those aren’t coming from the new site but from YouTubers who are watching music clips the same way they always do, on YouTube. But Vevo will get credit for those eyeballs and any ad dollars they generate.

So for now, the advice I offered would-be Vevo-watchers yesterday in advance of the launch remains useful today: If you want to watch a Vevo video, head to YouTube. Vevo won’t mind. Really.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik