Someone roll me a MeTube

MeTubeSo apparently those crafty cats up at were chattin’ up an open source alternative to YouTube, smartly backed by Amazon’s S3 mass-storage service.

Serve the files with Drupal, passing the media files into the open source Flow Player or aptly-named Flash Video Player, and you’re nine-tenths to bein’ illegal (as they say).

Now, that’s pretty hawt, if I do say so myself.

But, here’s what I pitched to the Flock guys last night at their SF meetup: why isn’t there an extension for browsers that takes any media file (I’m primarily referring to video, but audio support tends to be flakey too), sends it off to some server-side transcoding service and re-embeds a Flash file in place of the original media — that’ll play no matter what system you’re on?

I mean, this would be better than just distributing a player with the browsers… it would actually solve the cross-platform issue entirely (okay, so the Linux folks still need an up-to-date Flash player).

I’ve never been a big fan of Flash (for a number of reasons) but as it’s clearly the most cross-platform compatible format for sending out video and it’s not always possible for producers to generate Flash video, this solution would reside on the client-side, perhaps as a subscription-based service (owing the costs of licensing the all the codecs and so on).

I mean, until we get wide-spread adoption of open source video codecs and formats that are as good as the proprietary ones, this seems like a good stop gap solution. Don’t it?

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: (YC W18), Uber, Google.

6 thoughts on “Someone roll me a MeTube”

  1. you could totally use mplayer for the server transcoding. Its freakin amazing…. it even supports transcoding audio streams.

  2. Wow — that is a very cool idea and completely doable — now I just wish we had the time to do it and figure out the revenue model!

  3. Revenue model seems clear to me — a freemium service that you pay for to get top quality encoding and better bandwidth (see

    On the flip side, you could use the company to do your video hosting and encoding — just like FeedBurner does for RSS.

    Seems like a bidness to me!

  4. I like chris’s idea.

    basic users get basic service
    premium users get top-notch quality video service


  5. This whole thing sounds eminently doable. If Amazon can help out with S3, SQS, or EC2 in any way let me (or Jinesh, who’s on my team).

    By the way, how small is the world when I have met all 4 of the previous commenters on this post?

  6. Plug-in? Maybe you want to wait for Apollo? Creating a page scraper/transcoder so that you can “normalize” your video viewing experience is an interesting idea. The Amazon twist (storage/bandwidth utility) is nice especially if this can pave the way to some type of QoS. Can you build a business around a transcoding utility though? I have my doubts. Maybe this is something that BrightCove can offer?

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