The Associated Press announced yesterday that it had made an equity investment in digital broadcasting service Bambuser, extending an already-three-year-long relationship and adding AP’s global news video director Sandy MacIntyre as a non-executive director to Bambuser’s board.
Bambuser, which was started two years after YouTube in 2007, still has a significant leg up on similar services. Bambuser has apps for over 480 phones and can even film from webcams and some digital cameras, as opposed to Instagram which just added video capabilities to its Android- and iPhone-only app just yesterday. Needless to say, Bambuser has a storied history of enabling broadcasting for free for personal users and at cost for professional organizations.
But what’s most concerning, especially in light of recent complaints of YouTube edging into creators’ profits, is that Bambuser appears to grant AP complete access to user videos with little more than just giving credit. That is, AP and its affiliates have the right to broadcast users’ content on television to AP’s benefit, but all that users gain is a tip of the cap — which isn’t much considering YouTube’s advertising programs create revenue streams for both YouTube and video creators.
On the other hand, Bambuser executive chairman Hans Eriksson points out that Bambuser’s single-most active day was when over 10,000 videos were uploaded on Egypt’s election day in 2010, and that the platform has since become synonymous with a way to spread news. In fact, some of Bambuser’s most popular and most syndicated videos have been from Syrian activists. Bambuser users might simply want their video broadcasted than to be reimbursed for them.
Furthermore, Bambuser doesn’t have an advertising program and gains revenue from premium users (like AP) and fundraising (again, like AP). In fact, the service has raised $2.5 million to date, but is still privately held and has not announced any plans to monetize their content. With all funds apparently going directly to developing new apps and better broadcasting, it appears Bambuser’s not even close to being able to promise monetary gains to users.
So it’ll be interesting to see if this equity investment from AP will also involve paying their contributors.