Online Entertainment

Musk’s YouTube-Like TV Venture Faces Strong Challenges From Incumbents

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A new video venture announced by Elon Musk will face some strong challenges from entrenched incumbents, according to pundits interviewed by TechNewsWorld.

Reports began appearing last week that the bête noire of social media is crafting an app to stream long-form videos to users of X (formerly Twitter). “You can soon watch your favorite X long-form videos directly on your SmartTVs,” Musk revealed on X via the DogeDesigner account.

The upcoming service will be launched on Samsung TVs and Amazon’s Fire TV platform and will be a YouTube-like long-form video streaming service designed to make it easier and more comfortable to watch long-form content on a bigger screen, SamMobile reported Monday.

Musk has said X would be a “video-first” platform moving forward, and this development shows that this will translate beyond the small content boxes typically available on feeds to a bigger screen, according to Engadget.

Experts said Musk’s announcement is more than bluster. “The likelihood that he’ll try this is high. The likelihood, given how he has mismanaged Twitter, in him doing this right is exceedingly low,” observed Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, an advisory services firm in Bend, Ore.

“This is not an area he has shown a competency in,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Formidable Ambition Versus Formidable Competition

Musk’s track record of disrupting industries with ventures like Tesla and SpaceX demonstrates his capacity for bold innovation. Yet, the streaming market is fiercely competitive, with established players like YouTube dominating, added Mark N. Vena, president and principal analyst with SmartTech Research in San Jose, Calif.

“Success would depend on Musk’s ability to offer unique features, compelling content, and seamless integration with Samsung TVs while addressing user concerns about privacy and data security,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“While his vision and ambition are formidable, the journey to establishing a credible alternative to YouTube on Samsung smart TVs is fraught with obstacles, making success uncertain but not impossible,” he said.

Mike Horning, an associate professor of multimedia journalism at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va., was unsurprised by Musk’s announcement. “I felt he was going to move in this direction when he hired Linda Yaccarino to be CEO of X,” he told TechNewsWorld. Yaccarino is a former executive from NBCUniversal with deep ties to the advertising industry.

However, Matthew Dolgin, a senior equity analyst with Morningstar Research Services in Chicago, was skeptical of Musk’s tweet. “Based on his history and the reported challenges at X, I would say it’s premature to expect that this will come to fruition,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Dolgin doesn’t see a demand for what Musk is offering from either consumers or content providers. “From a consumer perspective, we don’t see one. YouTube is free, easy to use, and widely accessible,” he said.

“From the perspective of content providers,” he continued, “we think they benefit greatly from the network effects of Google and YouTube, so we wouldn’t expect them to be looking for an alternative platform, either.”

“Any demand on that end would have to be driven by an expectation of materially greater income for the content providers,” he added.

Better Storytelling Platform?

Enderle agreed that there doesn’t appear to be any demand for what Musk is selling right now. “Demand would have to be built, and Musk doesn’t really believe in marketing, so he’ll try to use Twitter to create that demand,” he said. “I don’t expect it will end well, given how many folks have dropped Twitter.”

Vena, though, does see a market opening for Musk. “As streaming becomes increasingly popular, users are seeking diverse content options beyond what YouTube offers,” he explained. “A competitive service could cater to niche interests, provide exclusive content, or offer a more curated viewing experience.”

He added that concerns over data privacy and content moderation on YouTube have also spurred interest in alternatives that prioritize user control and safety.

“Moreover,” he continued, “the proliferation of smart TVs has created a ripe market for new streaming platforms to integrate seamlessly into home entertainment systems.”

“Overall, the demand for a YouTube competitor in the TV space reflects both a desire for innovation and a quest for alternatives that better align with users’ preferences and values,” he said.

A Musk alternative might also offer content creators greater freedom, maintained Neil Chase, a writer, actor, story coach, filmmaker, and co-founder of Brimstone Pictures in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

“All content on streaming services is curated to such a degree that the quality of storytelling and informational content has gotten generally weaker,” he told TechNewsWorld. “There are certain things people are allowed to say and certain things they are not. This is a fact.”

“The one thing that Musk brings to the table that others don’t is a platform for storytellers and content creators to express their creativity and thoughts in a space that’s less regulated,” Chase asserted. “This is attractive to a certain percentage of both content creators and audiences.”

Eye Toward Universal App

Musk may also believe YouTube is spreading itself too thin to compete with market upstarts. “YouTube has been expanding, trying to take on TikTok and Reels,” explained Ross Rubin, the principal analyst with Reticle Research, a consumer technology advisory firm in New York City.

“Maybe Musk feels that is an opportunity, that YouTube is taking its eye off the ball chasing short-form video, and there’s an opportunity to appeal to content providers who want to do more substantial or cerebral types of content,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Rubin noted, however, that one of the significant challenges for Musk is that X seems to be losing, not gaining, momentum in terms of membership growth and advertiser growth.”

That was evident in a report released earlier this month by Edison Research. The research noted that in 2022 and 2023, 27% of the total population in the U.S. reported using Twitter. In 2024, 19% of the total population in the U.S. is using X, a 30% drop.

Musk’s move into TV appears to be part of his goal to make X a universal app, a place where users can go to satisfy all their online needs.

“I’m sure his engineering team can do whatever he wants to do,” Rubin said. “The question isn’t functionality. It’s making X the go-to service for multiple functions the way WeChat is in China.”

“That is a tall order,” he continued. “In the U.S., we have the kinds of incumbents that weren’t in China as WeChat rose to prominence.”

“You can put all the components in place, but how are you going to attract people to the platform?” he asked. “How do you onramp people to this integrated service offering?”

John P. Mello Jr.

John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, the Boston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and Government Security News. Email John.

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