Yahoo is taking on Google and start-up YouTube with a service that allows users to upload and share their videos.

Yahoo Video, launched on Thursday, will compete directly with Google Video but
will initially earn revenues only from advertisements placed on its pages.

Google’s service charges users to view some videos provided by media companies.

YouTube has popularised the uploading of home videos and TV and movie clips, becoming the fourth-largest social networking site worldwide.

It had some 38m unique visitors in April, up 1,200 per cent over six months, according to the comScore research firm.

Yahoo has lagged behind its rivals, although it has offered a video search service since December 2004 and has delivered music videos over its Launch service now renamed Yahoo Music.

Yahoo Video will incorporate the search feature and will find videos on Yahoo Music. It will also show results from across the web as well as videos uploaded to its own servers by users through a new service called Yahoo Studio.

The company said it would stand out from its competitors in also being able to offer content created by its internal media group and direct feeds from partners such as HBO, Viacom and Warner Brothers.

Yahoo is also emphasising social networking features – users will be able to
rate content and tag it with labels, create favourites lists and share them with other users.

Content can be shared via its Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Messenger programs and videos can be made to play from inside users’ own personal web pages.

“We’re combining core search with personal interactions to improve results,” says Jason Zajac, general manager of social media.

“As the video space continues to emerge, our strengths in search, content, personalisation and community make it possible for Yahoo to offer a highly engaging video experience for both users and publishers.”

Full integration with Yahoo’s other social networking tools will not be immediately available.

It has acquired a number of “Web 2.0” companies, including the photo-sharing site Flickr, tagging site and events service

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