Wednesday, January 12, 2022

 In November of 2006, Comcast in partnership with Genex attempted to create a user-created-content competitor to YouTube. It was called

Do you remember Ziddio? No? That's fine because it only stuck around for two years. The beta version was launched between Oct 29-Nov 2 2006 and it was subsequently discontinued on Aug 19, 2008. For at least a year, though, Ziddio seemed like it would be the next big thing. 

A very young made Ziddio its official video-sharing service in 2007.

The site operated quite differently than YouTube. See, back then, YouTube was not the corporate giant it is today. In fact, it was quite the opposite. It was just a small site with a hodgepodge of random videos made by random people. 

Sure, YouTube had its featured videos section, but it was mostly just an unhinged, never-ending stack of videos made dinky webcams. Plus some AVGN for good measure. 

In short, YouTube was unstructured in 2006, but Ziddio was quite the opposite. 

Before I get into it, I was to preface that there is very little available information on Ziddio. There are some old articles about the website, a TV advertisement, some old posts on random forums, and a couple screenshots from Flickr. only has a couple snapshots of the site and they were taken after Ziddio was discontinued. There isn't so much as a Wikipedia article about the long-gone website. Really, I'm going off of memory. I'll get into my relationship with Ziddio a bit later. 

Anyway, while YouTube was unstructured, Ziddio was almost overly-structured. 

It had eight categories, or "genres," for open submission. There is no information on exactly what those categories were, but we can assume they were things like "comedy," "gaming," "music videos," etc. 

Ziddio also held contests. More specifically, it held two contents before folding.
The first was a Star Wars contest called "Join the Jedi Order." Basically, users created short Star Wars fan videos and other users voted on which were best. Winners got a trip to the Kennedy Space Center. I remember someone winning the completion, but I don't remember who, and I can't find any information on it.  

The second contest was one where users filmed their messy houses. Again, there's little to no information on this contest. Probably because it wasn't as interesting. 

Check out this hilarious forum post where some Comcast marketer gets barred from promoting the Jedi competition.

In addition to the potential of winning a competition, selected users had their videos put on OnDemand. Basically, the best videos got to be on cable TV. I distinctly remember watching Star Wars fan videos over and over again in my parents' bedroom.

It's difficult to find any videos that were originally on the site because, quite simply, they all disappeared with Ziddio itself. The above video was created by the people at Ziddio. You can tell because it's from the official Ziddio YouTube channel, which only has 65 subscribers (one of whom is me).

What's interesting about Ziddio is its focus on TV. While on YouTube, everything lived on the web, Ziddio was created by a cable company, so its intention was to create TV shows. 

In Ziddio's partnership with Facebook, they created a show called The Facebook Diaries. This was a ten-hour miniseries featuring videos created by young people. There is absolutely no information on this series other than a couple articles that detailed its existence. 

They also produced a show around the same time called Dirty Bomb Diaries. You can actually watch this show because it's all on YouTube, but be warned, it sucks. It wants to be LonelyGirl15 very badly, but it has almost no charm whatsoever. 

Finally, in Comcast's final attempt to keep Ziddio alive, they produced what I believe was a horror show. It may or may not have been called Organ Grinder, but there is almost no information on it. Just one article from AdWeek. Really, this show may or may not have existed at all, so take it with a grain of salt. 

Basically, Ziddio was an attempt by a cable provider to keep people watching their content rather than going to YouTube. It was also a great way to get free content from users. Ziddio represents a day when companies were afraid of the internet; when companies were just dipping their toes in the digital landscape. 

These days, Ziddio is almost completely forgotten. It was just a weird hiccup before companies started buying one another and monopolizing the internet. 

Weirdly enough, though, Ziddio was a bit like a preamble to modern YouTube. In fact, I'd argue that Ziddio looked more like 2022 YouTube than YouTube did in 2006. 

Aside from the contests and genres, Ziddio had a strict copyright system much like current YouTube. Its algorithm also favored topical videos. It was structured and regularly removed videos that didn't fit its community standards. You could also argue that the three for-TV Ziddio series were like a 2006 version of YouTube Premium content. Most of all, Ziddio got its money through ad revenue, much like the tech giants we see today. 

In short, while Ziddio fell short back in 2007, its structure is more reminiscent of our modern social media platforms than those same social media sites were fifteen years ago. 

Now, I can finally get to why I care about this unremembered website.


I was absolutely in love with Ziddio back in 2007. 

I actually participated in the Star Wars competition when I was a kid. My video, despite being on the lower end of the quality spectrum, was in the top ten for about a week. 

Making this video with my dad (the guy who says "wrap it up" toward the end) was my first experience of filming, editing, and uploading a video. It was so cool. 

The Ziddio competition was the reason I became so obsessed with making videos. In addition to making my own video, I loved seeing what other people made. I wish I could find more videos from this competition because they were super fun and creative. 

Ziddio was the catalyst that began my love of filmmaking. Of course, I probably would have discovered YouTube and made videos anyway, but Ziddio was the start of it all. 

Today, I get money for making videos. So, thanks Ziddio! 

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