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User generated video on the web and TV part 1

  • By Paul Crichton
  • 7 Dec 06, 07:59 PM

OK, I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m becoming overwhelmed by the number of Video on Demand (V.O.D) websites currently appearing all over the web. It seems like there is a new one every day, and that is probably a conservative estimate. We’ve looked at You Tube and Google Video in other blogs, so we’re going to do a couple of entries looking at some of those other websites. We’re going to concentrate on the companies crossing the divide between the web and broadcasting on satellite TV. This merging of technologies is interesting stuff, so it’s a good time to see what is available, and how accessible it is.

Fame TV

What is it?

Fame TV shows a selection of clips on its website, but the real purpose is to get your video broadcast on their satellite channel. It doesn’t look as though they discriminate at all, and they claim that whatever you send in will be aired within fifteen minutes. Sound perfect for the Big Brother generation.

How accessible I it?

Not very. It was a nice surprise to see that the video content delivered in Flash allows you to work the controls with the keyboard, though. However, the buttons are pretty small, and I found myself squinting at them to try and work out what each one does. Navigating around the website isn’t easy either.

Uploading video from a computer looks tricky, but if you want to upload via your mobile phone, that looks relatively straightforward.

Usability Rating

One out of five – chocolate teapot standard.

Sumo TV

What is it?

Sumo TV is a bit of a YouTube look-alike. Aimed at the 18-34 year old market, it’s a website trying to be a hip and cool place for people to host their homemade video blogs, clips of teenagers miming to songs and pets doing the craziest things. I am, as you may have guessed, now beyond the targeted demographic, and, yes, I am taking it hard. Clips are rated by users, and the best ones are shown on Satellite TV. Also, it has a collection of cult movies you can download for what looks to be a pretty nominal fee.

How accessible is it?

The home page automatically plays a random selection of videos with no controls to stop them, which may cause problems for screen reader users, and irritation for others. If you can get past that, however, the website is at least navigable for screen reader users, even if it doesn’t offer optimum usability. One thing to note is that the videos themselves are not presented in a consistent format. It shows a selection from You Tube, Google Video and others. So until all those other websites offer accessible controls, Sumo wont be able to.

Uploading video from your computer looks challenging for screen reader users, but easier via mobile phone. Sumo lets you vote for your favourite videos as well, but that looks impossible to do with a screen reader or when only using the keyboard. There is a feedback form, so you can still have your say, it just won’t influence what appears on satellite TV.

Usability rating

Two out of five – no 200 gram heavyweight bar of chocolate here.

Of course, the problem with user-generated content like this is that it isn’t going to be terribly accessible, because video with closed captions, for example, is a rare thing to find on these websites. It takes time and expertise, and even if your average teenager has one, they are unlikely to have the other.

As we’ve said in a previous blog, if you need captions, and like this kind of content, you might be better heading to Google Video, which lets you add captioning, or search for captioned video.

Look out for two more reviews tomorrow.

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