I'm pleased to present the 226th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This week we focus on Maker Studios and the broader trend around short-form online video and its appeal to millennials.
The Maker NewFront earlier this week in NYC, which I attended, underscored for me how well the company is differentiating itself from traditional TV. Rather than trying to emulate HBO (as Netflix is doing) or chase Netflix itself (as Microsoft, Yahoo and others pursuing TV projects seem to be doing), Maker is carving its own path, focused on delivering breakthrough short-form content that resonates with millennials.
A key success factor is the creative freedom Maker talent has, allowing authenticity which appeals to millennials. Unvarnished and sometimes wacky, Maker's programming exemplifies how unconstrained the web is for the next generation of talent. Of course a key question is if or how things will change under Disney (whose CEO Bob Iger offered his first public comments on the deal this week).
(Note there's an approximately 5-second dropout in my audio about mid-way through. We're still wrestling with Skype's quality.)
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In a significant sign of how quickly the market has evolved, the IAB released new research with GfK showing that regular monthly online video viewers prefer online originals to TV news, sports and daytime programming. In addition, online originals are enjoyed almost as much as primetime TV programming. The chart below shows the data - it is a little difficult to understand, but the conclusions are clearly articulated.
The data was presented at the IAB's NewFronts Insights lunch yesterday, which I attended. The lunch included 5 research presentations from BrightLine, Tremor Video, Unruly, Visible Measure and YuMe.
Categories: Indie Video
Maker Studios' NewFronts presentation last night illustrated two of online video's biggest trends - the rise of short-form as a bona fide programming format and the intensifying battle for attention of millennial audiences. Maker is already a juggernaut, with 6 billion views per month, but last night's ambitious programming agenda - combined with its new access to Disney's treasure chest of iconic characters/brands - underscore Maker's potential to keep remaking the video landscape.
AOL introduced 16 original programs at its NewFronts presentation bash last night at a blustery Brooklyn Navy Yard I attended along with what seemed like thousands of others. Twelve new programs, from talent including James Franco, Steve Buscemi, Zoe Saldana, Kevin Nealon and others are on the docket, joining 4 originals from last year that were renewed, "Candidly Nicole" with Nicole Richie, "City.Ballet" from Sarah Jessica Parker, "The Future Starts Here" from Tiffany Shlain and "Hardwired 2.0" with iJustine.
Categories: Indie Video
As the Digital Content NewFronts gear up this week, IAB has released a study of agency and brand buyers, which, among other things, finds that interest in TV and online video advertising is now basically at parity. When asked how they would allocate their ad spending for their most important product/service, respondents' preference was 51% for TV and 49% for video. As shown in the below chart that compares with 58%-42% in 2012.
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)
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.
Categories: Indie Video
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.
Categories: Indie Video
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)
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:
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)
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.
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.
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.
Categories: Indie Video
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.
Categories: Indie Video
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.
Categories: Indie Video
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.
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.
Topics: The Young Turks
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?
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.