• 2009 Prediction #1: The Syndicated Video Economy Accelerates

    To kick off my 2009 broadband video predictions, here's one that won't surprise loyal VideoNuze readers: the "Syndicated Video Economy" will accelerate in the new year.

    This is hardly a controversial assertion given how much I've written in '08 about the SVE, which I first introduced last March. As a refresher, the SVE describes an ecosystem of content providers, distributors and all those who facilitate their relationships. In the SVE, content providers seek widespread distribution of their video. They understand that the Internet itself is a highly fragmented medium and that to optimize viewership, they must shift from "aggregating eyeballs" to a central destination site to instead focus on "accessing eyeballs" wherever target viewers may spend their time: on social networks, with portable devices or game consoles, on personalized portal pages, on vertical subject-driven web sites and myriad other places.

    Underlying this transition to widespread distribution is the recognition that, at least for now, advertising is the primary business model for the vast majority of broadband video content providers. Massive scale and accurate targeting are the two key ingredients to optimizing the ad model. While the SVE is still nascent and its ultimate potential is still far off, in '08 a diverse array of SVE enablers began laying the foundation for its future success.

    Two of the more interesting initiatives kicked off in '08 were Google Content Network and Adconion.TV, both of which seek to blend content, distribution and advertising into one scalable bundle. I expect more of these kinds of initiatives in '09, especially from ad networks, which are ideally positioned to distribute video to their partner sites. Plenty of others are also distributing premium video into the "mid tail" and "long tail" of web sites such as Grab Networks (a company formed by the Sept '08 merger of Anystream and Voxant), 1Cast, Jambo Media, ClipBlast, Magnify.net and Syndicaster.

    An important part of understanding the SVE is that, unlike traditional distribution which was focused on long-form episodes, the SVE is particularly well-suited to targeted distribution of video clips or short series. Creating, bundling and matching these clips to their appropriate audiences is where companies like 5Min, EveryZing, Digitalsmiths, Gotuit and others all play roles. Of course these clips must be managed coherently as part of a content providers' larger catalog, which is why many of the leading content management and publishing platforms like Brightcove, thePlatform, WorldNow, VMIX and others that cater to large media companies also offer syndication features.

    With the explosion of video syndication, content providers need the ability to enforce their business rules, measure usage and accurately carry ads even when video is played offline or on mobile devices. These needs are being filled by companies like FreeWheel, Visible Measures, comScore, WebTrends, Kiptronic, Volo Media, Transpera and Azuki Systems. As video is further married to the burgeoning social media landscape, companies like YouTube, KickApps, blip.tv, Slide, RockYou, ClearSpring, Facebook, MySpace and others are all pioneering innovative new forms of community building and user participation.

    Thought much of this activity only just started in '08, some of the SVE's rewards are already becoming clear. As one example, Hulu's October traffic as measured by comScore attests to how syndication is powering Hulu's impressive growth.

    The innovation and product development that's happening in the SVE, coupled with the broad investment focus on it cause me to be confident about syndication's future. I expect much more activity from all of the companies mentioned above, plus plenty of others I haven't been exposed to yet. In '09 the SVE's foundation will continue to get built out, with users being the ultimate beneficiaries.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.