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  • A World Awash In Video - March E-Newsletter

    Recently I was in Florida and I happened to be in one of those “super-sized” supermarkets – you know the kind with the wide aisles that seem a mile long. To fill the place up, there was a product selection such as I’ve never seen before. What does this have to do with broadband video?

     

    Well, it seems to me that the same type of vast selection is coming to the world of video. For example, a number of recent broadband video-related announcements have further convinced me that we are on the cusp of experiencing an explosion in the quantity of high-quality video available and choices we’re all offered.

     

    Consider these recently-announced examples:

     

    - Next New Networks – founded by a group of ex-Viacom executives, plans to launch 101 “micro-networks, consisting of 3-11 minutes of content refreshed on a schedule, daily, weekly, or bi-weekly.”

     

    - Michael Eisner, Disney’s former CEO, has launched Vuguru, a studio that will produce and distribute videos. Its first release is a project called "Prom Queen," which is a scripted 80-episode mystery consisting of 90-second episodes.

     

    - The heavyweight talent agency William Morris and technology provider Narrowstep announced an alliance to “program television channels for the Internet.” WMA is expected to tap deeply into its client pool.
     

     

    - Stephen Bochco (creator of “L.A. Law” and “Hill Street Blues”), has partnered with Metacafe, a broadband video destination site initially to produce “Cafe Confidential," 44-clip online series, with others to follow.

     

    - Revision3 – a new company formed by the co-founders of Digg, the popular user driven content site, launched “an actual TV network for the web, creating, producing its own original entertainment and content.
     

     

     

    - MSN has continued to rollout of its “Originals” series, having now launched half a dozen different programs.

     

    To this list can be added broadband video initiatives from dozens of cable TV networks, online publishers, magazines, newspapers, broadcast stations, brand marketers and others.

     

    Add it all up, and indeed, we are on the cusp of a world awash in video.

     

    How to Succeed?

    With all this video coming online, the question begs: can all of these producers succeed in building their audiences and actually turning a profit? To me, there are 5 key success factors for any of these players:

     

    Target your audience and incent their participation – In the cable TV business, the smartest business plans identified target audiences and then relentlessly programmed to them. Examples included music aficionados, sports fans and science fiction fanatics. Knowing the audience you’re going after, what their interests are, where gaps exist in current programming, and how to address audiences on their terms are all key. But all that’s not enough. It’s also crucial to incent audience participation in the development, promotion and review process. Like it or not, audiences are now able to be active programming partners. Their talent and passion needs to be harnessed.

     

    Produce inexpensively – Beyond just programming to the target audiences, it is essential to produce inexpensively. Cable budgets are lower than network budgets. Broadband video budgets must be lower still, at least for now. Audience sizes will be smaller and so for a while to come ad dollars will be scarcer. Plus smaller budgets can result in more edgy, authentic-feeling video which broadband users actually expect anyway. Producing on a shoestring will certainly be an adjustment process for the big-name TV talent now piling into broadband.

     

    Appeal to advertisers – In the scrappy world of broadband video, understanding what matters to advertisers when developing programming is more important than ever. Since audiences will be far smaller, advertisers aren’t going to be buying reach. Rather, they’re going to being the niches they value. The better your programming appeals to identifiable and valuable audiences (see above), the easier it will be to find advertisers willing to open their wallets.

     

    Distribute widely and syndicate often – Traditional TV was about driving audiences to specific channels at specific times. The Internet is all about making content available wherever audiences live and whenever they want access. Broadband will follow the same rules. So learning to distribute content widely and leveraging new syndication networks and technologies is key. For now, terms for these types of deals will vary considerably.

     

    Be flexible – Given its early-stage nature, there are no formulas yet for how any of this will ultimately work. So job # 1 is appealing to your audiences and building their loyalty. Since there are no expensive pilots to shoot, it’s key to “invest a little and learn a lot.” Be willing to change direction on a dime. When it comes to broadband video, a rigid mindset is the enemy.

     

    The Golden Age is Upon Us I’ve been telling people for a while now that we’re entering a “golden age of video”. Broadband’s open platform removes much of the traditional friction associated with delivering video into target audience’s homes. When combined with new, low cost production equipment and editing software, the result is an exploding array of new video choices. For creative people, this is liberating and exhilarating - truly a golden age. For consumers, it is going to be an era of unprecedented choice. For everyone, it’s going to be a world awash in video.
     
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