• Another Update from the Front Lines of the Syndicated Video Economy

    Having staked out the idea of the "Syndicated Video Economy" as a key driver of the broadband video landscape about 6 months ago, I'm continually looking for insights from those companies operating on its front lines. How is it evolving? What are the key challenges and opportunities? How are they being addressed?

    I got more feedback yesterday, moderating a session at the Contentonomics conference in LA. On it were:

    • Gary Baker, Founder and CEO, ClipBlast
    • Jimmy Hutcheson, President, EgoTV
    • Damon Berger, Senior Director of Programming & Business Development, Revision3
    • Danny Wright, Senior Director, Business Development, Photobucket

    Here are a few takeaways I scribbled down during the session:

    Revenue issues persist - Jimmy was quick to note that while he's an optimist about syndication, EgoTV's current deals have yet to produce a lot of revenue. I pressed him on the reasons: lack of distributor promotion/traffic, their inability to monetize traffic, both or neither? Jimmy's response was that with so much video flowing through key distributors, gaining solid promotion is a real challenge. A bigger issue is distributors' ability to monetize the traffic they're generating. I've heard this from others as well. This could suggest a continued shift to content providers owning/selling their ad inventory, with distributors focusing mainly on promotion/traffic, and receiving a revenue share for their efforts.

    Friction in executing syndication - Though Damon highlighted that Revision3 has 40 distribution partners, that's definitely the exception, not the norm these days; a recurrent SVE theme the panel discussed is the overhead involved in identifying partners, negotiating deals, implementing them, collecting performance stats and doing follow-up analysis. There are no easy answers here. As I've written in the past, some of this just gets resolved as the ecosystem of companies matures.

    Brand building takes on greater importance in syndication - There was some consensus on the panel that with content be viewing through multiple outlets, a clear challenge is building a consistent and differentiated brand. The importance of a content provider's own web site magnifies in the SVE. Even though a lot of viewership may occur elsewhere, it's still the best opportunity to control and define the brand for viewers. Further, even if substantial revenues don't materialize from syndication, these deals are still viewed as solid brand-building.

    Push to programming quality - As broadband video proliferates, getting noticed is harder than ever. As a result there's a real push to quality video that's underway. In part this involves pulling more high-quality talent into broadband originals. The quality bar is getting ever higher for broadband video especially as better-know talent adopts the medium. Distributors will be in a stronger position to choose which video to include and promote.

    That's it for now. I'll keep providing regular updates on the SVE as I gather more information from those fully immersed in it.

    What do you think? Post a comment.

    (Note: tomorrow's a rare day off for VideoNuze as I observe Yom Kippur)