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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Analysis for 'Indie Video'

  • VideoNuze Podcast #222 - How Long-Form Online Originals Are Changing the Game

    I'm pleased to present the 222nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This week we first discuss Sesame GO, a new SVOD service from Sesame Workshop, as a starting point for a broader discussion about the increasing proliferation of high-quality online content.

    Colin points out that new entrants to long-form content, like Xbox Studios and Yahoo (per a report from WSJ earlier this week) are adding to the volume of TV-style content online. Just this week at MIPTV, online providers Vice Media, Maker Studios and Dailymotion all did first-ever screenings at the international TV market. Colin sees this trend starting to impact pay-TV, as users still must use different inputs on their TVs to watch online content.

    All of this is part of the broader topic of whether OTT services, with high-quality long-form content, will actually find their way into the pay-TV world at some point. I've been skeptical of this in the past, but as programming costs continue to soar, I'm evolving my thinking.

    We wrap up with Colin providing an update on Fire TV, which he's now had a chance to use.

    Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 14 seconds)



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  • Yahoo is Now Pursuing Long-Form Originals; Video Strategy Remains Murky

    The WSJ reported last night that Yahoo is joining the long-form original programming fray, looking to order four TV-style programs with budgets in the $700K-several million dollar range. Such a move could up the company's profile, yet it seems like further evidence of a very murky online video strategy.

    Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has been saying that video is a priority for the company since she took the reins nearly 2 years ago. In that time Yahoo has been active, landing Saturday Night Live's catalog and certain shows from Comedy Central, recruiting Katie Couric as its "Global Anchor," and launching an excellent mobile video app Yahoo Screen.

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  • AOL Launches First Long-Form Series, "Connected"

    AOL is the latest online video provider to jump into long-form series programming, announcing this morning that it is adapting the Israeli series "Connected" for the U.S. market. Connected will follow the lives of 5 New Yorkers in parallel stories as they unfold and eventually come together. Connected already plays in a dozen countries around the world. It will debut at AOL's NewFronts on April 29th and start its run on AOL in January, 2105.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #218 - More Signs That Online Video is Coming of Age

    I'm pleased to present the 218th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. Both of us have continued to observe signs of how online video is coming of age, and today we discuss some of them.

    We start with news that Comcast will begin selling episodes of "House of Cards" in its Xfinity online store. Putting aside the question of why someone would buy an episode for $1.99 when they could binge-view all 26 episodes in a month for $7.99, both of us thought it's noteworthy that the largest cable operator believes an online-only series is worth selling (and note too, the deal was done with Sony Pictures, and that Verizon also has been selling the series).

    Then there was the report that Disney might acquire Maker Studios, a pure-play online video / YouTube content provider. While Colin and I get a chuckle out of the idea that the Disney flag could fly over Epic Rap Battles and PewDiePie, we agree it would be a smart bet to gain reach into the all-important millennial segment.

    Then we turn to the $18 million investment by Warner Bros. in Machinima, an online video gamer-centric content creator also targeting millennials. The 2 companies already had a successful collaboration with the "Mortal Kombat: Legacy" web series. No doubt the new investment will spur more gamer-centric originals for distribution by Warner Bros.

    We wrap up by discussing just how important millennials are to the video's future. Recent data suggest this group is still pretty glued into the pay-TV ecosystem, but their behaviors are changing fast, in turn leading established media companies to focus on online video more than ever.

     
    Click here to listen to the podcast (17 minutes, 38 seconds)


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  • Watch Jerry Seinfeld Gush About the Internet and Online Video's Potential for Content Creators [VIDEO]

    Jerry Seinfeld gushes about the role the Internet has had on society and online video's potential for content creators in a "BuzzFeed Brews" interview with business editor Peter Lauria. It's pretty cool to see how deeply Seinfeld gets the power of online video and how it's reinventing entertainment.

    Seinfeld himself has hit upon a successful formula in online video with his interview show, "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee," which just exceeded 25 million streams on Crackle and got great visibility during the half-time of the Super Bowl with the mini Seinfeld reunion episode.  

    Among Seinfeld's choice quotes in the interview:

    watch the interview

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #213 - The All-Amazon Edition

    I'm pleased to present the 213th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. Today we focus on Amazon, which is already an important player in video, and is poised to become more so. Among the topics we discuss:

    - plans to increase the price of its Prime service (and the role of expensive video licensing in driving this)

    - the possibility video could be split off from Prime and become a more pure competitor to Netflix and others

    - the many roles that video advertising could play as part of a new deal with FreeWheel

    - why an Amazon connected TV device (widely rumored) would be highly strategic

    - whether Amazon will enter the pay-TV business (as has also been widely rumored)

    - the role of Amazon's original online productions

    All in all, Amazon is circling the video space in many different ways, with potential to be quite disruptive. It's still very early in the game for Amazon and 2014 could be a big year. We'll see how it plays out.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (22 minutes, 32 seconds)



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  • Report: Major Brands Control Just 3% of YouTube's 14.9 Billion Beauty Videos

    According to a new report from video analytics provider Pixability, beauty brands are dominated on YouTube by independent beauty personalities and video bloggers ("vloggers") in terms of video views and engagement. Pixability found that major brands have just 3% of the 14.9 billion beauty-related video views on YouTube. YouTube vloggers, "haul girls," and other beauty content creators control 97% of conversations around beauty topics and related brands on YouTube.

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  • FOX Sports Digital Taps YouTube Talent Pool to Find Next Big Online Show

    FOX Sports Digital (FSD) partnered with YouTube to create the FOX Sports Digital VideoFest, a great example of how established media can tap into YouTube's vast online video talent pool. For the Digital VideoFest, YouTube selected 12 of its channel creators and brought them together for several days at YouTube Space LA. Creators were challenged to produce a pilot for a potential web series, with the winner chosen by a panel of 4 FSD executives. The Digital VideoFest was sponsored by Ford Fusion, with the winner receiving a $1 million development deal.

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  • 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Creating an Original Video Series

    Following is a contributed post by Frank Besteiro, VP and Head of Business Development & Partnerships, The AOL On Network. VideoNuze will consider contributed posts that are educational for video industry colleagues. Please contact me to learn more.

    5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Creating an Original Video Series
    by Frank Besteiro

    Over the past few years, the online video industry has evolved from a wild west of user-generated content and repurposed TV clips to one of the most exciting and buzzed about parts of the web. Major players like Amazon and Netflix have drawn attention by betting big on star-studded series that encourage viewers to indulge in marathon-style viewing. At the same time, media companies with their heritage in print and TV have been turning out innovative and highly produced content that engages their audiences in new ways.

    Though there’s no denying that it is still early days, there’s also sense of urgency in the industry borne of the fact that the ultimate winners in video will be those that get in the game early, experiment and start building a loyal fanbase. It’s for this reason that most online publishers who haven’t gotten into the game yet and are wondering if it’s time to jump onto the original series bandwagon. As someone who spends his days with the biggest names in the industry, I can tell you that this path isn’t for the faint of heart. Even though the potential payoffs are high, building a quality series and cutting through the noise is a major undertaking. Here are 5 questions every publisher should ask themselves before jumping into the fray.

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  • Amazon's PR Machine Gears Up to Support Originals Push

    Amazon's PR machine is gearing up to support the company's imminent push into original programming, with a high-profile piece on Saturday in the Wall Street Journal and today in the NY Times. In both, Amazon video executives are quoted explaining the process by which Amazon selected its first crop of originals, with a particular focus on Garry Trudeau's "Alpha House," the first series that will launch on November 15. No doubt we'll see lots more PR around Amazon's subsequent originals' release.

    The PR emphasis is a departure for famously reticent Amazon, but its presence is a sign of how strategic original video has become for the company, and how high the stakes are for it to succeed. Over the past 2 years Amazon has become much more competitive with Netflix in licensing hit TV programs from networks and studios to be included for its Prime members. Now the battleground is shifting to originals.

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  • When TV Shows End, Maria Menounos's AfterBuzz TV Kicks In Online

    A great example of how online video is enabling talent to create new forms of programming targeted to particular audiences is "Extra" co-host Maria Menounos's "AfterBuzz TV." Formed with her partner Keven Undergaro, AfterBuzz TV features live and on-demand "post-game" discussions of dozens of TV shows and movies. AfterBuzz TV is the ultimate water cooler for super-fans who want to drill down on every twist and turn of their favorite shows and characters.

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  • Getting Beyond YouTube: VEVO Launches TV Apps, Maker Studios Acquires Blip

    One of the big trends in the online video world these days is big independent video providers seeking to expand their distribution and monetization beyond YouTube while controlling more of their own destinies. The trend is gaining further momentum as the WSJ is reporting that VEVO intends to launch its music app on Apple TVs and Samsung Smart TVs, and AllThingsD is reporting that Maker Studios is acquiring Blip.

    According to comScore's July online video rankings, VEVO was the top-ranked YouTube partner, with 47.6 million unique viewers and 581.9 million videos, while Maker Studios was ranked third, with 28.6 million unique viewers and 530.7 million videos.

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  • Case Study: "The Young Turks" Expands Beyond YouTube, to Roku and Beyond

    If you're looking for a case study on how a successful independent content provider with its roots in YouTube is looking to diversify its distribution through other devices/outlets, "The Young Turks" (TYT) is a great example. Yesterday the company announced the availability of its Roku channel and its intention to launch standalone Android and iOS apps soon. TYT's COO Steve Oh told me these direct-to-consumer initiatives are part of a broader plan to augment - but by no means abandon - its traditional distribution through YouTube.

    With 50 million views per month, 1 billion+ views to date, and over 1.1 million subscribers, TYT believes it is the biggest online news show in the world. TYT is a top 50 YouTube partner, and what Steve calls a "boutique multichannel network" (MCN) because it focuses on a relatively narrow slice of partners in online news. While there has been some public grumbling about YouTube from its content partners lately, Steve had nothing but praise for the 800-pound gorilla of the online video world, highlighting that all of TYT's new efforts are an "augment" not a "replacement" for YouTube.

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  • Can Free, Ad-Supported Online Video Make the Hard Leap to a Paid, Subscription Model?

    Three items last week brought to mind one central question I've long wondered about: can traditionally free, ad-supported online video providers make the leap to a paid, subscription model? The first item was a long piece in Variety that chronicled the struggles the first set of YouTube content partners trying subscriptions is having upselling their free viewers. Second, Reuters broke the news that Machinima, one of the biggest online video players (and a big YouTube partner) is planning to go it alone in creating its own subscription service to complement its free, ad-supported offering. And third was the milestone news that Netflix, by far the most successful online subscription service, garnered 14 Emmy nominations, including 9 for "House of Cards" alone.

    How do these all tie together?

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  • New "WSJ Startup of the Year" Series is More Evidence of Video's Expansive Potential

    Two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal debuted its "WSJ Startup of the Year" documentary series, another great example of how online video is enabling print publications to expand well beyond their traditional roots. The series will run for 5 months, featuring 24 early-stage businesses (culled from 500 applicants) competing with one another across a number of challenges while being mentored along the way by over 40 high-profile business leaders. The series plays out in videos created by WSJ and submitted by the startups themselves. It is created in collaboration with Ish Entertainment, founded by Michael Hirschorn, former programming head of VH1.

    I've long been a big fan of print publications tapping into online video's potential to enrich their readers' experiences. Print publications like the WSJ have strong brand identities, editorial skills, promotional platforms and advertising relationships they can leverage for their video initiatives. WSJ has been a leader through WSJ Live, which, as of last year, was already producing 100+ hours of live and on-demand original programming/month.

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  • MSN News Partners With Newsy To Massively Scale Video Production

    MSN News is the latest high-profile news/information site to partner with Newsy for high-quality, short-form, customized video news clips. In a deal announced today, Newsy's editors will work collaboratively in real time with counterparts at MSN News to create and deliver up to 20 videos/day across categories including world, U.S. politics, science & technology, crime & justice and pop culture. Many videos are already live here and here. They will be distributed across all MSN News platforms.

    For Newsy, the MSN News deal is the latest in a string of partnership wins with big news/information sites. In March, Newsy landed a deal with Mashable to create customized videos, which followed other partnerships with AOL/Huffington Post and National Journal. In total, with the MSN News deal, Newsy is creating 200+ custom videos per week for partners, which is part of the 2,000+ videos it creates each month for its own web site, mobile apps and syndication partners such as 5Min, DBG, blinkx, Grab Networks, ClipSyndicate and others. Newsy videos generate over a billion views per year. Newsy uses multiple partner models including revenue sharing and straightforward fees.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #179 - YouTube's Subscription Channels: Big Deal or Not?

    I'm pleased to present the 179th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. Yesterday, YouTube confirmed that it will offer content partners the ability to charge for subscriptions. In what its calling a pilot program, 53 subscription channels are being launched, some from established brands like UFC, PGA, National Geographic and Jim Henson, and many more from less well-known content partners.

    In this week's podcast Colin and I discuss whether this is a big deal or not. Colin's more bullish than I am, seeing it as a very important piece in the YouTube puzzle, adding to existing advertising, rental and purchase monetization options.

    I agree it's smart move by YouTube, but I don't think it's a game-changer. While I see this as the right thing to offer content partners - especially those with huge audiences on YouTube - this is akin to "freemium" type option that will require partners to very clearly differentiate the incremental content available in their subscription tiers in order to convert a small percentage of their free viewers to monthly subscribers.

    A complicating factor is that for many users, YouTube subscriptions will be on top of - not a substitute for - already expensive pay-TV monthly bills. Then there's also a Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon or other SVOD subscriptions which already make a claim on finite entertainment dollars too. Lastly, YouTube is perceived as a "free" site by many, so it will take significant promotion by channels to persuade users to pay.

    Bottom line: YouTube is doing right by its content partners in offering this capability, but it's up to the content partners themselves to make it successful. My guess is for most partners, advertising will continue to dominate their YouTube-related revenue for a long time to come.


    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 15 seconds)


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  • VideoNuze Podcast #178 - NewFronts Review

    I'm pleased to present the 178th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This was NewFronts week, when a slew of content providers presented their slate of programs and initiatives to advertisers. Having attended a couple of the presentations, I was impressed by the turnout, energy and interest, especially since this was only the second year for these types of presentations.

    Advertisers have clearly moved online video beyond the experimental stage and are taking a strong interest. Colin and I agree that this is mainly due to viewers' strong adoption of online video viewing. This should only increase as viewers are presented with an exploding array of content choices. We talk more about the role that mobile and apps are playing in all of this too, and why established media needs to be aggressive in this shifting landscape.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (17 minutes, 53 seconds)




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  • For YouTube, Size and Youth Matter Most

    YouTube has been the undisputed 800-pound gorilla of the online video market since the beginning of time. And it's key message to advertisers at last night's "Brandcast" NewFront event was to emphatically remind them of its massive size and its reach into the youth market, factors it believes should drive advertisers' attention and spending.

    Whereas last year's Brandcast was all about the 100 new channels that YouTube was funding/launching, this year's event was more of a return to its roots: it's ability to give native digital talent the platform to reach and grow huge audiences. Because a lot of this talent resonates first and foremost with younger digital natives (in Nielsen parlance "Generation C"), YouTube says it's in a unique position to deliver these audiences.  YouTube cited Nielsen data that it reaches more 18-34-year-olds than any cable network.

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  • AOL's Originals Emphasize Authenticity, Differentiate From TV

    Looking past the thumping music and flashing lights that pervaded AOL's NewFront presentation yesterday, the big theme from the company's new slate of original productions was far quieter: it wants to be the online home for authentic programming from thoughtful creators.

    Going this less mainstream route means AOL isn't trying to out-TV TV - like for example Netflix is trying to do with "House of Cards" and its other new shows (how many times have you heard Netflix executives compare their efforts to HBO's?!). Though it is collaborating with some well-known talent such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwyneth Paltrow and Hank Azaria, AOL's new programs are mainly built around online and offline personalities who have unique perspectives on the world.

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