Webshots Adds Video

logoCNet’s photosharing service Webshots is adding video sharing capabilities today, something that has been expected since at least August when the service underwent a drastic redesign. There’s not a lot of information on the site yet about the new feature, but there is one company blog post with links to tutorial videos. You can see examples of Webshots video here and here.

The company claims its video service will have a 50-percent larger viewing area and nearly 3-times the bitrate of other video sites. As we wrote last month, CNet in general is bleeding traffic and Webshots in particular has seen a 69% drop in third quarter traffic. Adding video to Webshots could be a smart move if Webshots can bring something unique to the market. I’m not sure large play and higher quality is going to speak to users as much as the large community of YouTube or the privacy controls and file integrity of Multiply. Webshots may be suffering, but it’s far from dead yet. In June Hitwise identified Webshots as the 3rd leading photo sharing site online, behind only Photobucket and Yahoo! Photos.

Webshots is also announcing today a new program called Project Spotlight, which it calls an artist grant for scripted, documentary and citizen journalism video on the web. Webshots will begin compiling a best-of show combining the best video and photography on its site. This could prove compelling; see for example all the traction online contest site Bix gained by giving out awards up to $50,000 to users before being acquired by Yahoo! last week. Many independent video bloggers are looking for ways to be compensated for their work.

Hosting for free accounts will be free for the first 100 videos up to 5 minutes in length plus 10 extra videos per month of membership. Webshots Premium members will get up to 250 videos up to 10 minutes in length for free, with 25 additional videos per month of membership.

Photobucket has been particularly successful combining photos and video and I think the potential is there for Webshots to succeed with the combination as well. There’s something about the Webshots approach though that has a “destination site” feel to it though and I think it’s widely acknowledged that embedded, viral media is where the market’s enthusiasm is right now. Webshots needs to offer smaller versions of its players if it expects people to embed videos it’s hosting. Combine this with the mass exodus from Webshots and today’s announcement may prove interesting only when we compare features across major media sharing sites.