Yahoo’s Tumblr Enhances Video Player, But It’s Still No YouTube Killer

Tumblr, the micro-blogging site Yahoo acquired last year for $1.1 billion, has rolled out new features to make itself a better home for video. But despite speculation that it’s aiming to become a rival to Google’s YouTube, Tumblr still has a long way to go before it can credibly challenge the Internet’s No. 1 video site.

On Thursday, Tumblr announced several enhancements to its native video player. Those include: video autoplay on web and mobile (when on Wi-Fi); continuous video-looping a la Vine; a pop-out video player; and a “floating” video window that docks to the right allowing users to keep scrolling through the dashboard while continuing to watch the video.

Tumblr’s stepped-up video strategy supposedly encompasses a bid to lure YouTube creators to the platform, per a BusinessInsider.com report earlier this month.

But in reality, Tumblr’s expanded video play is more a defensive move to keep pace with more direct competitors like Facebook’s Instagram and Twitter’s Vine (and, it’s worth noting, Tumblr supports video posts from each of those services).

A critical point is that neither Tumblr nor the other short-form video destinations has an ad-serving infrastructure like YouTube’s well-developed advertising network for compensating creators for their content. Tumblr doesn’t offer any capability to serve ads in user-generated video content currently. So it’s a stretch to believe YouTube stars will be interested in jumping to Tumblr, especially given that they’ve built up their large audiences on YouTube to begin with.

The monetization piece of Tumblr’s video push has to do with branded material posted by marketers: “As one of our seven posts types, advertisers have always had the ability to use video for their sponsored content on Tumblr and we can’t wait to see what they do with this update,” a rep said.

While Tumblr claims video posts have been growing twice as fast as photo posts, it declined to disclose actual numbers of views in each category.

Wall Street analysts have been critical of Yahoo’s Tumblr deal as failing to produce any significant revenue contribution in the 15 months since the acquisition closed.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, on the company’s earnings call Tuesday, defended the Tumblr deal by citing its strong user growth, with the number of unique users up 40% from 300 million to 420 million since the acquisition. Yahoo expects Tumblr to top $100 million in advertising revenue in 2015, she said — but, of course, there’s no guarantee that will actually materialize.

Tumblr has taken steps to make the platform a more attractive outlet for media companies. Yahoo earlier this year hired former CAA agent Sima Sistani to head up partnerships with media and entertainment companies.

To date, Tumblr has executed promotional campaigns with entertainment partners including NBC’s “The Voice,” Lionsgate’s “Hunger Games,” AMC’s “Halt and Catch Fire” and Viacom. According to Mayer, more than 260 of “the world’s top brands” are now posting to Tumblr.

But however much traction Tumblr is seeing from promotional campaigns, it’s nowhere near YouTube — projected to gross $5.9 billion in revenue worldwide in 2014, per Jefferies & Co. — and won’t be approaching that anytime soon.

More Digital

  • Ryan Chanantry - Topic SVOD

    First Look Media's Topic Plans to Launch Subscription VOD Service (EXCLUSIVE)

    Can Topic execute a solid pivot into premium video? The digital storytelling outlet of Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media thinks it can put together a niche Netflix-style subscription-video service curated to appeal to young “culture cravers.” Topic plans to launch the subscription VOD service in the fourth quarter of 2019, stocked with hundreds of hours [...]

  • Dan Ahdoot

    This New Podcast Lets You Take a Peek Into Celebrities' Fridges (EXCLUSIVE)

    Comedian Dan Ahdoot wants to show you a side of celebrities you haven’t seen before — which is why he is having them open up their fridges. Anyone appearing on Ahdoot’s new podcast “Green Eggs & Dan,” which was launched by the podcast network Podglomerate Wednesday, has to bring along a photo of the inside [...]

  • Spotify-Disney

    Spotify Pacts With Disney to Launch Hub With Music From Movies, TV Shows

    Fans of Disney movies and TV shows can now dive into a dedicated music hub on Spotify, featuring seven playlist sections with top hits from Disney animated favorites and music from Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars films. Disney’s No. 1 most-streamed song on Spotify is “Let It Go” from the “Frozen” soundtrack, followed by “Moana”’s [...]

  • La Linea Invisible

    Mariano Barroso Shoots Basque Conflict Origins Story ‘La Linea Invisible’

    IRUN, Spain  — When- and why – do people begin to kill for a cause? Having created “What the Future Holds,” maybe the best reviewed to date of any Movistar + Original Series, Spain’s Mariano Barroso (“The Wolves of Washington”) tackles this question head on in “La Línea Invisible,” a six-part series, again from Movistar [...]

  • The Lion King

    ‘The Lion King’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Walt Disney Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “The Lion King.” Ads placed for the remake had an estimated media value of $5.64 million through Sunday for 1,290 national ad airings on [...]

  • Apple Plans to Fund Podcast Exclusives:

    Apple Reportedly Plans to Fund Original Podcasts

    Apple has plans to open its checkbooks for podcasts that would be exclusive to its podcasting apps, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. The investments would help the company defend its market leadership in an increasingly crowded field, and fend off competitors like Spotify, Pandora and Luminary. News of the plans sent Spotify’s stock down more than 3%; [...]

  • LiveXLive Names AOL and MTV Vet

    LiveXLive Names AOL and MTV Vet Dermot McCormack President

    Live entertainment digital media company LiveXLive Media today announced that AOL and MTV veteran Dermot McCormack has been named president of the company. According to the announcement, McCormack will lead the business and creative operations of LiveXLive, effective immediately. McCormack previously served as AOL’s Global President of Video and Studios, where he oversaw the video [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content