YouTube Slam Sparks All Kinds of Competition

Posted by · December 28, 2011 11:56 am

There’s nothing like a healthy dose of competition to make something more interesting. At least that’s what the folks from Google Research concluded, suggesting that finding the next musical superstar among countless YouTube videos would require a system that consists of something more than acoustic analysis and machine learning.

“While machines are useful for weeding through thousands of not-so-great videos to find potential stars, we know they alone can’t pick the next great star,” the team’s Charles DuHadway concluded back in November.

Initially developed with music in mind, YouTube Slam is the latest way to engage the world’s most popular viral video site. By pitting pairs of videos against each other, users are encouraged to vote for the video that they think is best. In addition to voting for the best aspiring musicians—called Music Slams—YouTube Slam includes Comedy, Cute, Bizarre and Dance Slams as well. At the end of a given Slam, the video with the most votes is the winner and is featured on that Slam’s leaderboard.

Although this undoubtedly creates opportunities for those who dream of using YouTube as a springboard to fame, those lucky few are not the only winners. Voters who successfully predict user favorites can also earn points and compete with other players on a weekly basis as everyone hopes to play a role in discovering the next big thing on the Internet.

Meanwhile, YouTube’s latest move has already sparked speculation about how this incredibly simple game—a game that will surely gain instant admission to the Timewaster Hall of Fame—is going to be felt by other media outlets.

“Will YouTube Slam…help Google’s video site take down cable and beat up Netflix (and its moves into original content)?” asked CNET’s Edward Moyer.

Although he left the answer to the test of time, to put forward such a question in the first place carries with it its own set of implications. The idea that cable channels may ultimately lose their edge to those found on YouTube is a foundation-shaking notion. To those of us who grew up getting the majority of our information and entertainment from a giant box in the corner of the living room, this means that the revolutionary media of our generation now rests on the brink of extinction.

The suggestion that an already weakened Netflix—primarily through self-inflicted wounds, no doubt—stands to be injured yet again calls further into question the idea that Netflix-like content is the future.

Until answers to these new uncertainties manifest themselves, however, there is one thing that YouTube Slam makes certain: Angry Birds and Turntable.fm now have to compete that much harder to suck up your valuable time.