In an age when anyone with a video-capable cell phone can have their own TV channel on the Web, it is still the celebrities and rock stars who are getting all the views (just as on Twitter they get the most followers). Kyte CEO Daniel Graf knows this fact all too well. Of the 215,000 video channels on Kyte, nearly all are created by consumers, but only about 1,000 account for more than 90 percent of the mobile videos streamed via the service. And those 1,000 channels are invariably the work of professionals or the cell-phone videos of famous people such as musicians Lady Gaga (iTunes link) and Soulja Boy (iTunes link)
In April, Kyte streamed 50 million videos across the Web, mobile devices, and social networks. Just to put those 50 million video streams into perspective, that is half the number of videos streamed in March, 2009 by AOL, the tenth ranked video site in the U.S. (Hulu, which is No, 3, streamed 380 million videos).
Today, Kyte is launching iPhone apps for partners including MTV, the NBA, Spin Magazine, the rock band No Doubt, and the Los Angeles radio station KCRW, which is using the app to highlight videos of bands playing live in its studios. Some of these apps are tailored to specific events such as the MTV Movie Awards and the NBA Playoffs (iTunes link). Kyte creates iPhone apps as a turnkey service, with the ability to add different modular features to each app. These features include video shows based on mobile Kyte uploads; blog, news, and Twitter feeds; live chat; a presence indicator showing how many other people are currently in the app; music or video downloads via the iTunes store; location-aware event listings for tour dates and other listings, mobile Web access, and custom modules such as basketball scores
Kyte is taking off, but not because of user-generated videos. Rather it is trying to cash in on the premium slice of video content out there, much like Hulu is for Web video. The difference is that Kyte creates consistent branded video experiences across Websites, social networks, and mobile devices. Graf doesn’t see Kyte competing so much against Qik and UStream on the mobile live streaming video front as it does against Brightcove in the enterprise video publishing. Pitches Graf: “We are cheaper than Brightcove and you get mobile as well and Twitter and Facebook.”
Kyte wants to become the one-stop shop for major talent and media brands, wrapping their Websites and iPhone apps around mobile video. My problem with the apps is that they are only as good as the content they showcase. The iPhone apps are very consumption-oriented. For instance, Twitter is treated as nothing more than a straight, one-way feed instead of turning letting fans Tweet back from within the app.
In the video below, which I took last week when Graf visited my office, he talks about the new iPhone apps, how the Kyte platform ties together mobile, Web, social Networks, and Twitter, and how he sees Brightcove as his biggest competition: