5 Updates to Note: Brightcove 3, Silverlight 2, Google-YouTube-MacFarlane, NBC-SNL-Tina Fey, Joost-HuluTuesday, October 14, 2008, 8:12 AM ET|Posted by Will Richmond
With so much going on in the broadband video world, I rarely get an opportunity to follow up on previously discussed items. So today, an attempt to catch up on some news that's worth paying attention to:
Brightcove 3 is released - Back in June I wrote about the beta release of Brightcove 3, the company's updated video platform. Today Brightcove is officially releasing the product. I got another good look at it a couple weeks ago in a briefing with Adam Berrey, Brightcove's SVP of Marketing. I like what I saw. Much more intuitive publishing/workflow. Improved ability to mix and match video and non-video assets in the way content is actually consumed. New emphasis on high-quality delivery to keep up with ever-escalating quality bar. Flexibility around video player design and implementation. And so on.
The broadband video publishing/management platform is incredibly crowded, and only getting more competitive. Brightcove 3 ups the ante further.
Silverlight 2 is released - Speaking of releases, Microsoft officially unveiled Silverlight 2 yesterday, making it available for download today. I was on a call yesterday with Scott Guthrie, corporate VP of the .NET developer Division, who elaborated on the details. NBC's recent Olympics was Silverlight 2 beta's big public event, and as I wrote in August, the user experience was seamless and offered up exciting new features (PIP, concurrent live streams, zero-buffer rewinds, etc.).
A pitched battle between Microsoft and Adobe is underway for the hearts and minds of developers, content providers and consumers. Silverlight has a lot of catching up to do, but as is evident from the release, it intends to devote a lot of resources. Can you say Netscape-IE or Real-WMP? This will be a battle worth watching.
Google and Seth MacFarlane are hitting a home run with "Cavalcade of Comedy" - A month since its debut, Google/YouTube and Seth MacFarlane seem to have hit on a winning formula at the intersection of video syndication, audience growth and brand sponsorship. On YouTube alone, the 10 short episodes have generated over 12.7 million views according to my calculations, while this TV Week piece quotes 14 million + when all views are tallied.
Last month, in "Google Content Network Has Lots of Potential, Implications" I wrote at length about how powerful GCN and YouTube could be for the budding Syndicated Video Economy, yet noted that the jury is still out on whether Google's really committed to GCN. "Cavalcade's" early success surely gives GCN some tailwind. (Btw, for more on Google/YouTube's myriad video initiatives, join me on Nov. 10th for the Broadband Video Leadership Breakfast Panel, which David Eun, the company's VP of Content Partnerships will be a panelist)
NBC/SNL and Tina Fey set a new standard for viral success - Tina Fey's Sarah Palin skits are hilarious and unlike anything yet seen in viral video. Usage is through the roof: a new study by IMMI suggests that twice as many people watched the skits online and on DVR than did on-air, while Visible Measures's data (as of 3 weeks ago!), shows over 11 million video views. SNL is smack in the middle of the cultural zeitgeist once again, with Thursday night specials and reports of a new dedicated web site in the mix.
To put in perspective how disruptive viral video can be to the uninitiated, several weeks ago I heard a pundit on CNN's AC360 dismiss the potential impact of the Fey skits on the election with a wave of his hand and a remark to the effect of "come on, how many people stay up that late to watch SNL really?" How's that for being out of touch with the way today's world really works? Political pros and other taste-makers should take heed - viral video can be a cultural tour de force.
Joost Flash version is here, finally - Remember Joost? Originally the super-secret "Venice Project" from the team that made a killing on KaZaA and Skype (the latter of which was acquired by eBay, permanently undermining former eBay CEO Meg Whitman's M&A acumen), Joost today is announcing its Flash-based video service. You might ask what took the company so long given this is where the market's been for several years already? I have no idea.
But here's one key takeaway from Joost's story: because of its lineage, the company was once regaled as the "it" player of the broadband video landscape. Conversely, Hulu, because of its big media NBC and Fox parentage, was dismissed by many right from the start. Now look at how their fortunes have turned. When your mom used to tell you "don't judge a book by its cover," she was right.
What do you think? Post a comment.
Categories: Aggregators, Broadcasters, Politics, Syndicated Video Economy, Technology
Topics: Brightcove, Google, Hulu, Joost, Microsoft, NBC, Saturday Night Live, Seth MacFarlane, Silverlight, YouTube
Google Content Network Has Lots of Potential, ImplicationsWednesday, September 17, 2008, 11:14 AM ET|Posted by Will Richmond
Many of you know that Google has recently begun distributing short animated videos from Seth MacFarlane (creator of TV's "Family Guy") to a wide network of sites that previously only received ads from Google, through their participation in AdSense. The company dubs this the "Google Content Network" (GCN for short), and from my vantage point, it has a lot of potential and implications for other players in the video distribution value chain. Yesterday, I spoke to Alexandra Levy, Google's Director of Branded Entertainment, and the point person for driving this initiative.
The first thing that resonates for me about GCN is that Google's vision for it harmonizes perfectly with my concept of the "Syndicated Video Economy." VideoNuze readers know that last March I introduced the SVE concept to capture a trend that I was noticing: an ecosystem was forming to distribute broadband video widely across the Internet, in contrast to the traditional, narrower distribution model.
Alex echoed the SVE, saying that in her many conversations with content producers, finding an audience is their top challenge. Great content, unwatched, is like the proverbial tree that falls in the forest when nobody is around to hear it.
So enter GCN, which Google rightly sees as a "media distribution platform." To understand its implications fully, you have to evaluate its potential to all relevant constituencies: Users get great updated content served to them at the sites they already visit. Those sites benefit from offering premium content, while also receiving a revenue share on the accompanying ads. The content provider benefits from leveraging Google's vast AdSense network to have video "pushed" to relevant audiences, increasing viewership and engagement. And advertisers' brands benefit from adjacency to premium content that is sought after and compelling.
Of course, last but not least, Google benefits from being the intermediary in this whole process. We all know from Google's massive success in web search that being the intermediary in a model where all constituent interests are neatly aligned creates near-infinite economic value. While Alex concedes the MacFarlane video (which is sponsored by Burger King and was brokered by Media Rights Capital) is still an "experiment," GCN sure does seem to bear a lot of resemblance to Google's traditional search model in the alignment of constituent interests.
Another twist here is that users who click for more video are driven back to MacFarlane's YouTube channel (already the 69th most subscribed channel, with almost 70K subscribers), which drives habituation, a key lever for ongoing video success as any network TV executive will admit. In this light, GCN gives Google a way of finally tying its powerful AdSense engine to YouTube. I'm not suggesting that Google is sweating the ROI on its $1.6 billion YouTube acquisition, but GCN surely looks like a way to move YouTube far beyond its roots as everyone's favorite UGC aggregator.
Alex is quick to point out that GCN does not budge Google from its often-stated position that it is not a content creator. Rather, it's using GCN to connect brands, content producers and users. If that connecting process drives audiences and generates revenues for content producers - and admittedly the proof is not yet in - that would give Google a lot of disruptive capital to help shape the video landscape. Just so nobody gets carried away, Google announced a similar experiment 2 years ago with MTV that fizzled out. So the company has yet to prove its experiment works and that it is fully committed to the GCN model.
Still, I continue to believe that video syndication - and the accompanying benefits to all - is a key, key driver of how the broadband video landscape is going to unfold. As a small teaser, there will be more interesting news on the syndication front early next week. Stay tuned.
(And note that the syndicated video economy will be one of the main topics of discussion at the Broadband Video Leadership Breakfast "How to Profit from Broadband Video's Disruptive Impact" with our A-list group of panelists, including Google's David Eun, on November 10th. Click here to learn more and register for special early bird rate.)
What do you think? Post a comment now.
Categories: Advertising, Aggregators, Indie Video, Syndicated Video Economy
Topics: Google, Google Content Network, Seth MacFarlane, YouTube
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