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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Analysis for 'Indie Video'

  • Video Interview with Vuguru's Chief Creative Officer Kristin Jones

    Today I'm pleased to share a video interview I did with Vuguru's Chief Creative Officer Kristin Jones at the recent NATPE Market conference in Miami, FL. Among other topics, Kristin describes Vuguru's business model, some of the successful originals that it has created, how she sees online distributors differentiating themselves and where the market for digital content is heading from here.

    The interview runs about 7 minutes. (Note, I'm off camera and my audio isn't great, so the questions are overlaid in text.)

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  • Video Interview with Generate Founder and CEO Jordan Levin

    Today I'm pleased to share a video interview I did with Generate's Founder and CEO Jordan Levin at the recent NATPE Market conference in Miami, FL. In January Generate was acquired by Alloy Digital, in a deal that created a multi-platform media company targeting the young adult market. In the following interview Jordan discusses the rationale for the deal, the combined companies' top 2-3 priorities, how to judge the success of branded entertainment project and much more.

    The interview runs 12 1/2 minutes. (Note, I'm off camera and my audio isn't great, so the questions are overlaid in text.)

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  • My Damn Channel Launches Live Daily Comedy Show

    In another milestone for online video's evolution, independent online studio My Damn Channel is announcing today "My Damn Channel LIVE," a live daily comedy show. The show will be featured on My Damn Channel's web site and on its new YouTube channel. It will be streamed at 4pm ET starting a week from today and will be hosted by Beth Hoyt, an up and coming actor/writer/comedian.

    The show is envisioned as a late-night talk show, but updated for all the elements that online offers. The format will include celebrity interviews, interaction with viewers, promotion of other My Damn Channel comedy shows and engagement with talent from other YouTube channels. Viewers will also be able to catch up on the show on demand.

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  • Tumi Backs New Bourdain Web Series While Avoiding TV Ads

    More proof that online video is opening up new advertising and engagement possibilities beyond traditional TV, as premium travel lifestyle company Tumi - which has never run a TV ad - has opted to exclusively sponsor a new web series called "Bourdain's TV Crew." Tumi's SVP, Brand Management, Alan Krantzler told me last week that its commitment was driven by a desire to increase brand awareness among younger customers and to leverage Bourdain's large Facebook fan base to build its own.

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  • Video Interview with Yahoo's EVP, Americas Ross Levinsohn

    Today I'm pleased to share a video interview I did with Yahoo's EVP, Americas, Ross Levinsohn at the recent NATPE Market conference in Miami, FL. Among the topics Ross addresses are::

    How Yahoo is breaking through given the proliferation of online video choices?

    How did the new Tom Hanks project "Electric City" for Yahoo come about?

    Why is Yahoo's user data so important to developing original programming?

    What's the timetable for shifting TV spending to online video and what are the key challenges?

    Are there non ad-based revenue streams Yahoo envisions for its video?

    What's the big surprise he foresees for 2012?

    The interview runs 12 1/2 minutes. (Note, I'm off camera and my audio isn't great, so the questions are overlaid in text.)

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  • Wall Street Journal's YouTube Channel Launches With "Off Duty" Video Series

    The Wall Street Journal has launched its WSJ Live YouTube channel this morning, debuting "Off Duty" a companion video series to the popular lifestyle section in the newspaper's Weekend Journal. The WSJ Live channel is the latest addition to YouTube's 100 original channels strategy. In addition to Off Duty, the WSJ Live channel features NewsHub, Digits and Mean Street, three other on-demand/live video series that are found on the main WSJ.com site and more recently the WSJ Live iPad app.

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  • With Original Channels, YouTube is Building a Parallel Universe to Cable


    There are many exciting things happening in the online video industry, but to my mind, none is more noteworthy than the radical transformation of YouTube. YouTube is shedding its scruffy adolescence and seeking to redefine what entertainment means in the online video era. In fact, with each passing day, it becomes more evident that YouTube is building a parallel universe to the traditional world of cable TV, targeting niches that have long been mined by a multitude of specialty channels. This theme will crystallize as 2012 unfolds.

    YouTube's 100 new channels of original online-only content have begun rolling out and will continue to do so throughout the year. For a relatively modest $100 million (by Google's standards!) YouTube is getting first dibs on programming that is laser-targeted at valuable niches. Importantly, it is helping galvanize a community of content creators who have either not been a part of the traditional pay and broadcast TV ecosystem, or are seeking a new, less constrained environment to play in, or both.

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  • Online-Only Originals Are Entering a Virtuous Cycle

    Just last week, in "Hollywood's A-Listers Embrace Online Video, Upending the Status Quo," I noted all the various factors that are contributing to top industry talent now pursuing online-only projects. But as I've had a chance to digest last week's CES announcements, plus Hulu's news yesterday that it too is planning an aggressive originals strategy in 2012, I think it's quite likely that online-only originals are entering a "virtuous cycle." Key elements for online-only originals' success are falling into place and are poised to build on each other, combining to dramatically accelerate the growth and acceptance of this emerging class of programming.  

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  • YouTube's Content Head Kyncl at CES: The Niches Rule

    Yesterday, Robert Kyncl, YouTube's VP of Global Content Partnerships, delivered a keynote address at CES with one overriding message: the future of video is all about the niches. Whether highlighting the success of Michelle Phan, a YouTube star that outdraws the Style Network on cable, the virtues of a forthcoming dedicated "Yoga Channel" for 17 million enthusiasts, or noting that the top 5 YouTube partners today all have audiences big enough to rank them among the top 20 TV networks, Kyncl made clear that YouTube is staking its future on the video industry fracturing into highly-specialized viewing segments.

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  • Hollywood's A-Listers Embrace Online Video, Upending the Status Quo

    Tom Hanks. Louis C.K. Lisa Kudrow. Kevin Spacey. David Fincher. Bill Maher. Jennifer Lopez. Judy Greer. Steven Van Zandt. Anthony Zuiker. Morgan Spurlock. Ed Begley, Jr. Heidi Klum. What do these Hollywood A-Listers (or near A-Listers) and other stars all have in common? They're all involved in original online video projects which are helping upend the Hollywood ecosystem, legitimize the online medium and further fragment audiences. Each no doubt has his/her own reasons for getting involved, and taken together they're creating momentum that is going to draw in even more talent.

    Of course, the big news this week was Tom Hanks partnering with Yahoo for the animated series "Electric City." Hanks, one of Hollywood's most bankable stars, said he was drawn by the opportunity to make "ambiguous attractive" which feels like another way of saying he's searching for greater creative freedom. While creativity may be motivating Hanks, in Louis C.K.'s case, it seems more about tweaking the System and proving that when presented with a compelling offer (in this case a $5 DRM-free download of his "Live at the Beacon Theater" special), people will behave properly (i.e. pay rather than steal).

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  • Why Albert Pujols is Over-the-Top's New Best Friend

    When baseball great Albert Pujols signed a staggering 10-year, $254 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last week, he became over-the-top's (OTT) new best friend. That's right, everyone including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Amazon, plus countless online-only content producers, should have been celebrating Pujols's new riches. Why? Because the Pujols deal is the latest example of how pay-TV seems determined to price itself out of reach for certain segments of the population, opening up a huge window for OTT to succeed.

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  • With New Channels On Deck, YouTube Plays "Strategic Catalyst" Role in Online Video Industry

    Yesterday the WSJ reported that YouTube may unveil a batch of new original content "channels" as early as next week. YouTube is reportedly investing $100 million in the initiative, with potential content partners including Electus, ShineReveille, FremantleMedia, Tony Hawk, and CSI's Anthony Zuiker. While it's too early to know exactly how all of this will work, I think it is evidence of YouTube playing an important "strategic catalyst" role for the online video industry.

    I initially explained this concept last April, comparing YouTube's investment in online-only programming to how cable operators invested in and nurtured early cable TV networks several decades ago. It's increasingly difficult to recall these networks' humble origins in the midst of current high-profile original entertainment programming and sports broadcasts, not to mention ratings wins, but the reality is that in their fledgling days, distributors were cable networks' lifeblood. Cable operators provided cable networks with distribution, promotion and importantly a business model (monthly affiliate fees and eventually advertising), all of which would expand in the ensuing years. YouTube is now laying the groundwork to do exactly the same thing for online-only programming.

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  • HealthiNation Lands on Roku; Now #3 in Health Vertical Due To Syndication Strategy

    Health and lifestyle video creator HealthiNation is announcing its availability on Roku devices this morning. The move extends HealthiNation's content syndication approach which helped place it third in comScore's Video Metrix ranking of health-related sites last month. HealthiNation racked up 3.1 million unique visitors, putting it ahead of WebMD and Everyday Health, and trailing only 5Min and HealthGuru. As Raj Amin, HealthiNation's CEO told me last week, the company gains the bulk of its traffic through its third-party syndication network of approximately 25 partners.

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  • MyDamnChannel Shows That Persistence Pays When Pursuing Brand Dollars

    MyDamnChannel's CEO Rob Barnett was the featured speaker at last night's Multi-Screen Mix-Up in NYC and his short presentation and Q&A with Tubefilter's Josh Cohen underscored how persistence pays when it comes to pursuing brand dollars. Rob was pretty candid is explaining that in the beginning it was nearly impossible for MyDamnChannel to attract brand attention, so it settled for low-five figure deals to get the ball rolling and develop its content model. Flash forward to today and Rob says he and the team are now getting in to see chief marketing officers at Fortune 500 companies (and sometimes even the CEO himself/herself) to discuss brand entertainment projects.

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  • New Social TV Network "Vidblogger Nation" Rolls Out On VOD

    Independent video producer SimplyNew Studios has unveiled "Vidblogger Nation," featuring 3-5 minute episodes from video bloggers in 10 local markets around the U.S. Each of the video bloggers is creating 12 episodes for the first season of Vidblogger Nation which will be carried by Comcast On Demand Local. The idea is for the video blogger to each tap into their social networks to help generate audience and engagement.

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  • Startup Veedios Bridges Video to Connected Devices

    Connected devices that enable viewing of online-delivered video on TVs are proliferating. As this new addressable universe of viewers expands, content providers naturally want to deliver to it. This is especially true for content providers who haven't gained valuable distribution agreements with pay-TV providers, and therefore have been shut out of the living room to date.

    The problem is that each connected device manufacturer has its own publishing environment and approval process. That's where startup Veedios comes in. Veedios has developed a tool that allows it to publish native apps to 5 different platforms today (boxee, Roku, Popbox, Plex and Yahoo Connected TV, which includes Samsung, Sony, Vizio, Toshiba and LG), with more coming soon including iOS and Android.

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  • Common Craft's New Subscription Model Offers Lessons for Video Creators

    Online video has spurred countless talented video creators to pursue their dreams and connect with their audiences. But finding a sustainable business model remains a persistent challenge. Should videos be free and ad-supported? Or paid for by viewers on a one-off iTunes type basis? Or be part of a "freemium" model? Or be in a subscription service? Or maybe some of all of the above? Experimentation, intuition, knowing who the customer is and listening to feedback, and taking risks must all be taken into account when determining the right business model.

    And that's why Common Craft, a husband-and-wife team that focuses exclusively on producing simple, short explanation-oriented videos often on technology topics (see below for an example) that have been viewed 35 million times in the last 4 years offers useful lessons for video creators. After pursuing a pure iTunes approach with payments on a per-video basis while doggedly staying away from an ad-supported model, the company has now completely shifted its model to subscriptions-only.

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  • Friday Fun: Jason Alexander's "Netflix Relief Fund" and Microsoft Office 365's "Gmail Man" Videos

    A little Friday fun - if you haven't yet seen former "Seinfeld" star Jason Alexander's hilarious "Netflix Relief Fund" video on Funny or Die or Microsoft Office 365's "Gmail Man" videos, it's time to take a break and do so. I promise both will lighten your day and prompt you to share further. Then get back to work. Both videos are after the jump. Enjoy!

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  • Break and Scripped.com Announce Screenwriting Contest Winner

    Something fun to get this summer week started: Break Media and Scripped.com have announced the winner of their recent contest to identify an up-and-coming screenwriter, produce his/her script and feature it on Break.com. From 300+ submissions, the winner is Evan Kaufman, a Boston-based comedian for his script, "The Cutest Website" (see below for video and enjoy, it's pretty funny).

    The Break/Scripped.com contest illustrates once again the larger point that online video is opening up new avenues for talented creators to be discovered and connect with their audiences. In the traditional TV world where there was finite shelf space, the odds against an aspiring writer breaking through were astronomical. The odds are still long though much better since with online video, there are many more outlets, more creative freedom, and many more ways to find an audience. Sites like Break, which has placed a huge emphasis on original content, are helping fuel this process.

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  • 5 Lessons AOL CEO Tim Armstrong Has Learned About Online Video Success

    At WPP Group's Global Video Summit yesterday afternoon, (hosted by Kantar Video, GroupM and WPP Digital), AOL CEO Tim Armstrong shared 5 lessons he's learned for online video success:

    1. Dedicated teams for video are required; it's too important to share resources

    2. Video assets must be organized and catalogued; most companies don't even know how much or what they own as he found when he arrived at AOL 2 years ago

    3. A great video player is needed; it's at the center of the user experience

    4. Video should be put everywhere; distribution is crucial

    5. Collecting data on video performance is essential; data is particularly useful in determining the optimal ad formats and user experience

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