In July, independent online video creator Next New Networks will hit 1 billion views since its inception, company CEO Lance Podell me in an interview last week. Next New Networks is now generating 60 million views/mo across its whole network. Lance shared this statistic and more in the following interview, in preparation for NATPE's LATV Fest, scheduled for July 12-15. Lance will appear on a panel titled, "The NEXT new Network: The Intersection of Cable and Web Programming." An excerpted transcript follows.
VideoNuze: Which of your networks are doing the best, and why?
Lance Podell: The biggest are Barely Political and Barely Digital. The primary reason is because we've really tapped the mix of pop culture currency and comedy. A majority of our viewing is on YouTube and the discoverability on YouTube is still around comedy. Comedy is really, really strong.
Also interesting about YouTube is that success is relative. For example, our IndyMogul network which is about movies, but from a different angle at what's hot, is in a different vertical and at 5 million views per month, does very well there. A recent network we launched is HungryNation, which is real food for the YouTube generation has doubled and trebled over the last few months. We give new networks 90-120 days to really take off or not. YouTube and others are working hard to make new content more discoverable which is really important to launching new shows.
VN: There's been recent discussion of online video gaining viewership in primetime. Are your networks gaining in primetime?
LP: Primetime is a thing of the past - it's just not relevant any more. People can watch video-on-demand. Their lives are very different. Our viewership, at 60 million views per month, is the same as some smaller cable TV networks in primetime. So we're getting big enough to compete. Something that is interesting for us is "anytime" viewership. For example, we did some research recently and people said things like, "I come home from work or school and turn on YouTube." It's like they think of YouTube as a network. They tell us they find our humor more real and authentic. They also tell us they don't like being committed for 22 or 44 minutes or more.
Importantly, over the last 2 years web-only programming has become more reliable. Our shows come out at the same time every week. So people are tuning in, not just relying on people sending email links. And because all episodes are available they can really get into it.
VN: You talk about "super-distribution." What's that and why is it important?
LP: On the web there's so much discovery and video is everywhere, so often our viewers don't know where the video originally came from. We're happy to meet the consumer in their environment, not ours. Only about 10% of our views come on our own sites.
VN: What's the ad climate like now?
LP: That's our biggest challenge right now, because so many different advertisers are at so many different stages of their evolution now. Some are running their existing TV ads, some are creating "branded entertainment" and some - which we love the most - say "we get the new rules, we're open to new ideas, how do we work with your community?"
VN: How important are convergence devices (e.g. Google TV, Roku, Xbox, etc.) for you?
LP: We know people are getting more comfortable flipping back and forth between online and TV. We believe people will watch anywhere they can so it doesn't change much about what we're doing already. We like how they level the playing field, but believe people are finding us already.
VN: Who's your competition?
LP: It can be tricky in our space - there are people doing original web production, but we're not sure they're competitors so to speak. Revision3, DECA, Break, CollegeHumor all do a great job, but we look at them as all helping build this category. Where it's more competitive is on the ad side; but there we think of sites like Yahoo and MSN where it's easy to buy 300 million views and not think much about the "smarts" of your ad campaign that really take advantage of the benefits of this medium. Our tagline used to be "TV for the Internet," but we stopped because many users said to us, "Why are you trying to be like TV, this is totally different?!" We offer advertisers the opportunity to engage with younger users on their terms.
VN: What else is hot these days?
LP: The "Next New Creators" program, which we launched in the last year. Our original plan was always to work with new creators, but when we started there wasn't a lot of great new stuff. But now YouTube has become a great farm to find great producers. We build network brands and try to recruit creators by offering talent, viewership/audience/fame and more revenue. They're building out the programming. We're about to launch a fitness network and a gaming network - all built by new talent.
VideoNuze is the authoritative online source for original analysis and news aggregation focused on the burgeoning online video industry. Founded in 2007 by Will Richmond, a 20-year veteran of the broadband, cable TV, content and technology industries, VideoNuze is read by executive-level decision-makers who need to get beyond the standard headlines and achieve a deep understanding of online video’s disruptive impact.