We made a small survey of some users of Youku to get a sense of how people use it. This is just one of those casual things your research intern does during her trip home to China to spend the holidays with family and friends there.

The short document of our findings is available via this link (PDF): Youku Tidbits January 6 2011.

The online video space is fascinating right now.  YouTube, iTunes and Netfilx are the only real winners today. YouTube is doing over $1B in annual revenue and that’s from advertising. Netflix has been able to capitalize on the DVD to streaming movement and move with their subscribers.  And of course Apple has evolved iTunes into a platform for buying and watching vides including free content, TV shows and movies – all for purchase or rental.

On a smaller level there is lots of what might be called “casual video” which is consumed based on the format it is shared in.  Lots of YouTube content is distributed this way.

The two basic models are quality content and embedded sharing.  There will be massive competition for both and signs that some are winning in one or both will be the key to making the right investment calls here.

It’s far too early to handicap this race and we have a few additional notes in the document. But it’s just a start and the ensuing months will help us piece together more of the picture and what the stock impacts might be.

Further reading:

A longer discussion of adaptive streaming.

[Disclosures: None]

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