In thinking about the surge in online video, the name that invariably comes to mind is YouTube, in part because the company gets tons of hype, but also because the site has actually transformed the experience of watching television (defined broadly). Considering all the hype about YouTube, it may come as a surprise that the video service from MSN is actually seen as a leader in the space, at least in terms of advertising and revenue. MSN's approach has been, simply, to go out and sign a bunch of exclusive contracts with content providers and then to distribute popular shows with advertising. Essentially, the company has the same business model as a conventional TV station, which is the reason it hasn't gotten anywhere near as much buzz as YouTube. And since the conventional TV channel is dying, there's reason to believe that with its current model, MSN will have a hard time holding on to its gains. There's certainly no guarantee that YouTube will emerge as a victor in the online video battle, but just as AOL's promise of exclusive content gave way to a more anarchic web, the same is likely to happen with video.
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