You could consider YouTube to be the world’s virtual entertainment capital. I mean, just the sheer variety of content on the platform means you can spend days on the site and literally not watch the same video twice. With more than 500 hours of content being uploaded every minute, you can imagine how tough it is for competitors to keep up. So how did my week without YouTube go?
The first thing I turned to was YouKu, China’s equivalent of YouTube. This turned out to be quite a revelation given its own volume and variety of content. You see, where YouTube stopped at being a media hosting platform, YouKu pressed forward, creating their own content as a publisher themselves.
From the latest basketball news to snippets of concerts from my favourite artists, pretty much everything on YouTube can be found on YouKu. (With the exception of the usual YouTube stars of course.) Still, what you lose in YouTube performers, you gain in terms of YouKu’s many variety programmes.
That said, not all of YouKu’s content plays well here - a good number of the movies and drama serials are restricted to China IP addresses only, so that sort of evens the odds a bit. We also found that YouKu doesn’t do as good a job of associating content to what you’re watching as YouTube does.
For example, if I was watching a concert video of Jacky Cheung in YouTube, the suggested videos that accompanied would certainly have more videos of the legendary singer. With YouKu, the suggestions were also videos from concerts, but of completely diﬀerent artistes altogether. So, if I wanted to indulge in a listening session of only Jacky Cheung songs, or maybe an hour of nothing but Kobe Bryant’s basketball moves, I’d have to search for each video in succession - not the best experience to say the least.
The other problem, is that many of the videos are either designated as premium content only for members, or region locked and so not available in Singapore. And of course, there’s the issue of language. YouKu is essentially completely in mandarin, so you’d need to have at least a base understanding to navigate through it.
For sports content there’s always Bleacher Report and ESPN, and these sites gather reports and videos from across the web. They also create their own content, so you can really get all the sports news and videos you want from just a single site.
For a sports fan, what you want is to catch up on the action as soon as possible, and that’s what YouTube is really good for. With these two sites, I got tweets, write-ups, and links to video clips of all the latest highlights and replays from games as they were progressing.
But what about the crazy home videos YouTube is so famous for? I mean, we all need a good laugh sometimes. Well, TikTok has all that and more. The only thing is, they’re all in the vertical format so it might not be as immersive. It organises clips via hashtags and soundtracks, so if you wanted, you could probably spend a whole hour watching anything from dog videos to short workout clips to tutorials on how to style your hair – to the same song. Still, if you want the variety of YouTube, TikTok is a great alternative.
Ultimately, it’s certainly possible to live without YouTube. It may be the easiest one-stop shop to hit if you just want to have a stream of videos running, but there are plenty of alternatives out there for every genre of content. All it takes, is a bit more eﬀort, or just a few more bookmarks.
ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?
It’s not easy to replace YouTube, but here’s what I tuned in to:
Launched a year after YouTube, YouKu is one of China’s top online video and streaming service platforms, with more than 500 million active users and daily play counts of 1.18 billion. This has user-generated content, exclusively created content, and licensed content, covering a broad range of genres.
Launched in 2005 by four friends and sports fans, Bleacher Report has since grown to have its own internet television service that features original studio programming and live event coverage. Their animated spot “Game of Zones” even received Sports Emmy Award nominations in 2015 and 2018.
Easily the largest name in sports coverage, the ESPN.com is the web portal for sports broadcasting giant ESPN (Entertainment and Sports Programming Network). This has maybe the most comprehensive coverage of sports you can find online, from the usual soccer and basketball down to chess and e-sports.
TikTok was launched in 2017 by ByteDance for markets outside of China. It runs best on your phone and has short looping videos of three to sixty seconds. You can choose to use the included soundtracks or use your own recorded audio. A number of filters and stickers are available if you want to easily spruce up your video.