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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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Analysis for 'Indie Video'

  • Does Glenn Beck's New Dish Network Deal Portend Pay-TV Riches for Other Internet Stars?

    Is online video its own medium, or is it a farm league for those aspiring to make the transition to the majors of traditional TV? This has been a persistent question for years, and has gained more attention as numerous big-name celebrities have begun creating online-only originals. Are these stars committed to online video, or is it just a stepping stone to the conventional TV world they know so well and have benefiting from so greatly?

    No doubt, the question will be re-visited anew, as former Fox News host - and current online video star - Glenn Beck has announced this morning a new distribution deal with Dish Network for his online network TheBlazeTV, along with the intention to pursue other pay-TV carriage deals. Regardless of what you think of his politics, Beck's move back into pay-TV, leveraging his success online, will surely be viewed as a template by others looking to make a similar leap.

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  • Back from Vacation? Here Are 5 Stories Worth Noting

    If you were trying to tune out last week, whether lying on a beach or on a family getaway, you didn't miss all that much exciting online video-related news. However there were some items worth noting and below I've highlighted five that caught my eye.

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  • HuffPo Live Launches, Seeking to Define New Online Programming Format

    Six months in the making, HuffPo Live has launched this morning, seeking to define a new online programming format at the intersection of live-streaming video, news coverage and community involvement. Unlike other news outlets that have primarily relied on re-purposing on-air broadcasts, or on creating online segments featuring their own reporters, HuffPo Live is looking to transform its huge base of active readers/commenters into participants in live-streamed, topical discussions. As a result, HuffPo Live is being positioned as not just a "video network," but more broadly as a "platform for engagement."

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  • OpenSlate Launches To Measure Value of Video's Long Tail Producers [VIDEO]

    Independent online video production is flourishing, helped along by investments from major players like YouTube, Yahoo, AOL and others, and the enthusiasm of thousands of mom and pop creators looking to carve out a valuable niche audience. But unlike the pay-TV business, where content is supported by advertising and distributor fees, virtually all online video relies solely on advertising. Independents face the acute challenge of conveying the value of their content and audiences to media buyers who are increasingly overwhelmed by the choices in front of them.

    To address this problem, this morning Outrigger Media is announcing the beta launch of OpenSlate, a marketplace for online video that uses a proprietary "SlateScore" to consistently measure the value of over 10,000 different video productions. SlateScore measures a video's reach, engagement, influence and consistency - attributes that buyers look for when assessing "premium content" - by ingesting and analyzing thousands of data points about the videos' viewer behavior.

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  • HealthiNation Adds to Fitness Library With PumpOne Deal

    HealthiNation, which produces and syndicates health and lifestyle video across multiple platforms, is getting a big boost to its library via an exclusive distribution deal with PumpOne, which has the largest collection of fitness and workout videos and images. PumpOne offers content such as step-by-step workout plans and hour-long exercise classes yoga, bootcamp and other areas.

    HealthiNation separately announced that Seth Solomons has joined its board of directors. Solomons is currently Global CEO of CRM365, a CRM agency that's part of Publicis' VivaKi unit, and is also the former global CMO of Digitas.

     
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  • MSN's Joe Michaels: "Our Most Successful Video Series Are in Verticals" [VIDEO]

    At the recent NABShow, MSN's Joe Michaels stopped by the VideoNuze booth and discussed how it is now producing 15-20 original video series on its network. Some are produced by MSN itself, while others are with studio or 3rd-party production partners, or are branded entertainment. Joe said the ones that are most successful are focused on verticals, like TV recap show "Last Night on TV" and auto guide series "Road Raves." Joe also talks about the success MSN is having with "MSN Now," which tracks top social media trends with a companion video series. See the video below (4 minutes, 19 seconds).

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  • VideoNuze Report Podcast #131 - Battle Lines Drawn Between Paid vs. Free Video Ecosystems

    I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 131st edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for May 4, 2012. This week Colin and I discuss how fundamental battle lines have been drawn between the traditional TV ecosystem vs. the numerous digital outlets that are launching online-only original programs. To be more specific, the former group seems intent on erecting ever-higher paywalls to access its programs, which is in turn opening up a gigantic opportunity for free, ad-supported programs to be provided by the latter group. How this battle unfolds will have far-reaching and profound implications for everyone involved.

    For the traditional TV ecosystem, there appear to be two core drivers at work; first, the desire by broadcast TV networks to morph themselves into cable TV networks, and second, the role that TV Everywhere is taking on as a foundation of paywall economics.

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  • Digital Content NewFronts Point to Audience Fragmentation Ahead

    As with TV, it's awfully hard to predict which particular programs and initiatives unveiled at last week's Digital Content NewFronts ("DCNF") will succeed and which will flop. But one thing that I'm fairly certain of is that the aggregate effort by digital outlets to create high-quality originals portends significant audience fragmentation ahead. To me, the historical parallel is as follows: what cable TV has done to broadcast TV in re-distributing audiences, online is about to do to cable TV and to broadcast.

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  • Revision3's Jim Louderback: "Tablets Are More Like Mini-TVs" [VIDEO]

    Revision3's CEO Jim Louderback gave an impromptu interview at VideoNuze's NABShow booth last week, providing insights from the company's experience of delivering 30 shows online. One of Jim's key points is that while mobile as a category is red hot, it's important to understand that tablets and smartphones are very different. He likens tablets to "mini-TVs" and is seeing longer much longer viewing times vs. smartphones.

    Jim also talks about how his company is providing a place for shows that wouldn't ordinarily be found on cable or broadcast TV. And he talks about the innovative way that his shows' hosts integrate brand messages during the programs. All great insights for other content producers looking to distribute online. See video below (7 minutes, 32 seconds)

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  • Is the Cable Ratings Drop-off the Tip of the OTT Iceberg?

    I'm constantly on the lookout for data points that provide insights into how viewer behavior may be changing, particularly with respect to possible shifts from traditional pay-TV offerings to new over-the-top (OTT) alternatives.

    That's why a client note from the media analysts at Citigroup this week, which highlighted the ratings drop-off that cable TV networks as a group are experiencing, caught my eye. The Citigroup note follows a recent WSJ report explaining that 11 of the top 15 cable networks have lost audience this year, including a whopping 25% decline at Nickelodeon among its kids 2-11. Citigroup said that for each of the last 6 months, cable's total day ratings decline has actually accelerated, from 2.3% last October to 7.8% in March.

    Citigroup's main concern about this ratings drop-off is that cable networks' ad revenue growth is slowing as well, in turn pressuring their media company owners' valuations. While that is surely a worry for investors, an even broader issue to consider is whether the drop-off in cable's ratings is the tip of the OTT iceberg, signaling that the explosion of online-delivered alternatives is beginning to impact viewership patterns. While it's too early to conclude this, all of the elements that would drive OTT's rise - at cable's expense - appear to be falling into place.

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  • What is "Premium" Video Anyway and Why Should We Care?

    At yesterday's IAB Digital Video conference, 10 industry executives (see list at bottom of this page), debated how best to define "premium video." It's not an academic question, because for many brands and agencies, the concept of "premium" determines whether the video will qualify for ad spending at all. And of course, the more "premium" the video is, the higher the pricing its ad inventory will command, which in turn drives the video's profitability. At a time when more original online video is being produced than ever (much of it deficit-financed), understanding in advance what is premium - and therefore monetizable - is critical to achieving success.

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  • 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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