No. 1 Internet video provider YouTube now lets its registered users become, in essence, their own Internet TV channel.
What YouTube's done is provide a way for its users to organize and present the videos uploaded to the site. In so doing, YouTube's created a kind of uber-TV network where the stations are manned and operated by registered users.
In practice, what YouTube unveiled June 2 is a way for registered users to create their own Web sites, pack each with their own videos, then make them available to subscribers. Subscriptions are free, as is use of the YouTube Web site.
"Most of the other video sites organize channels around the content; for us it is now around the users themselves," a YouTube spokesperson wrote in an e-mail. "We see this as a big distinction - now it's the audience in control of programming."
YouTube's success has forced some major changes at rival video search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN, so updates like the one initiated June 2 are expected to be watched very closely, and perhaps replicated by rivals.
At times controversial - pirated videos are constantly being yanked - almost all of what YouTube offers is homespun. And it has been a ripping success so far.
Hitwise, the Internet intelligence firm, reports that as of May 20, nearly 43 percent of all video searching was done through YouTube. In second place is MySpace Videos, with 24.2 percent after increasing its site traffic by a whopping 3,800 percent in the last few months.
Meanwhile, video offerings from Google, Yahoo and Microsoft's MSN lag far behind.
Video search engines support themselves selling advertising. YouTube is currently doing so using the automated ad features provided by both Google and Yahoo. But YouTube's in the process of creating its own ad scheme, the likes of which has yet to be announced..