01 / YouTube
For transforming itself from Google’s folly into a global network. Moves such as nurturing original content partners that can attract an audience; hosting successful live events (concerts, Conan O’Brien’s 24-hour live stairwell cam); developing Leanback, a more TV-like experience for viewers; and tailoring its advertising products to the site’s offerings have made YouTube into web video’s most powerful force, with some 3 billion views every day.
02 / Twitter >>
For shaping the future of interactive TV. Twitter has become the home for real-time conversation about live programming, sometimes integrated directly into programming (see: on-air “tweet streams” during MTV awards shows and CNN news coverage). The platform can also enhance the couch-potato experience, such as when Glee characters tweet during the show broadcasts so fans can watch alongside the on-screen personalities they love.
03 / Netflix >>
For leading the charge for cable cord-cutters (read: people who drop cable service in favor of streaming digital content to their TV) with its smart and aggressive dealmaking. Netflix’s most significant deal in 2010 was its content arrangement with Epix HD, an upstart cable channel, which gives the service an attractive array of movies and shows from Viacom, Paramount, and Lionsgate studios.
04 / FX >>
For a great run of high-quality, low-cost laffers. The cable network’s new model for developing series, particularly original comedies, has led to a number of hits for the cable network–Archer, Louie, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia–and become the envy of other networks and even the creative community.
05 / Funny or Die
For building a multi-platform comedy brand. One of the leading video destinations online thanks to its strong celebrity ties–Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Emma Stone, and more–FoD has proven a consistent ability to make videos that people want to share. But FoD’s biggest successes may be offline: Its HBO late-night series, Funny or Die Presents, has been a hit; it’s doing a sketch series with Comedy Central; and it’s producing a movie–all ways in which FoD can leverage its online success into traditional entertainment opportunities where there’s more money.
06 / UStream
For developing the leading home for live-streaming video on the Internet. It’s spent the last year building out its platform, adding tools for creators to offer pay-per-view events and their own live mobile streaming apps, and letting users pay to opt out of on-screen advertising.
07 / Brightcove
For powering web video almost everywhere you look. Brightcove runs web video for Showtime, A&E, The New York Times, Fox, Discovery Channel, and about 2,700 other companies, helping its cable partners bring their “TV Everywhere” vision to life. Brightcove was also one of the first companies to work with the new integrated video capabilities in Twitter’s updated interface.
08 / Blip.TV
For courting the original web series community with attractive revenue splits, and working with an impressive roster of advertisers, such as American Express, Microsoft, Samsung, and Zappos. Blip, which has long focused on quality over quantity, has also been a leader in embracing new video technology, such as streaming HD, HTML5, and other emerging standards.
09 / Xtranormal
For letting anyone become a web video creator. Its simple web-based app converts a text script into an animated video where users can choose their characters, add expressions, and toy with camera angles.
10 / GetGlue
For leading the way in entertainment-based check-ins. GetGlue’s “social entertainment” app, which has accrued more than 900,000 users in less than a year, combines the check-in aspect of a Foursquare with the emotional need to discuss the media we consume. It has also worked with HBO, ABC, Random House, Fox, Universal, and a number of other media companies to build a “social taste graph” that helps people connect with content they care about.
Photograph by: Sinfactory Media/Corbis Outline