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Analysis for 'TotalVid'

  • Zipidee Buys TotalVid; Guns for Long Tail Video Dominance

    This morning Zipidee, a company formed earlier this year, is announcing its acquisition of TotalVid from Landmark Communications. With the deal Zipidee is gunning to become the king of the long tail, enthusiast video, using a strictly paid model. Yesterday I spoke with Zipidee CEO Henry Wong, and TotalVid President Karl Quist about the deal and the opportunity going forward.

    Zipidee's strategy is to create a digital marketplace for video, audio and ebooks. As Henry puts it, we're "eBay meets iTunes", enabling content providers to set the business rules around how their content can be accessed. Like TotalVid, Zipidee's intent is to open up the broadband distribution market to the many smaller, independent producers who have traditionally relied on inefficient and hard-to-access DVD distribution channels.

    I am very familiar with TotalVid, having worked as a part-time biz dev consultant for them for a while, helping pull together a number of distribution deals. TotalVid started up in the relatively early days of broadband video, almost 4 years ago. Karl and his team did a fabulous job gaining access to specialty video in tons of categories such as action sports, martial arts, instruction, etc, eventually aggregating over 500 different content providers providing over 5,500 different titles. This library is very complimentary to Zipidee, which itself has done hundreds of content deals aggregating a library of over 5,000 titles. As Henry explained it, there is virtually zero duplication.

    Henry resolutely believes that the paid approach for accessing this type of longer-form, specialty content is preferable to ad-supported. In general I agree with him - this kind of stuff isn't just random low-quality clips and consumers should expect that it won't come free.

    However, as many VideoNuze readers know, I believe there are real challenges succeeding with the paid model right now. Chief among them is that the Internet is awash with free video, continuously raising the bar for how to get users to crack open their wallets and pay for anything, no matter how useful or sought after it might be. So this leads to a real marketing and customer acquisition challenge. Meanwhile DVD is a robust format and few people are yet familiar or comfortable with how a paid download works (e.g. is it portable? how does it get moved to other machines, can it be watched on TV?) So there's a big customer education challenge.

    Nonetheless, I'm rooting for Zipidee. If they can surmount these and other challenges, they'll have created a hugely valuable digital distribution franchise.

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  • Revisiting the Long Tail on My Cable Show Panel Next Week

    Next week I’ll be in Vegas for the annual Cable Show. This is the cable TV industry’s annual gathering of operators, programmers and vendors. I’ve been attending this show for years and it’s great fun to reconnect with lots of old colleagues and friends.
    Last year I moderated a session with video executives from AOL, Google, MSN and Yahoo, which, based on feedback I received afterwards, helped a lot of attendees understand how significant these companies are going to be in the video distribution business (and therefore, why they need to be on cable executives’ radar screens).
    Once again I’ll be moderating a discussion session, this year entitled, “Video’s Online Adventure: New Ideas for a New Generation of Television.” The session features Doug Hurst, SVP, Scripps Networks, Joe Gillespie, EVP, CNET, Ian Blaine, CEO, thePlatform, Bob Leverone, VP Video, Dow Jones Online and Karl Quist, President, TotalVid.
    As a former “cable guy”, one of my main goals with these sessions is to continue helping the industry recognize that the world of video is changing dramatically. Cable executives have been remarkably adaptive to change over the years. But with broadband’s openness now allowing scores of new video providers and distributors into the market, many of cable’s fundamental operating assumptions are going to be severely tested.
    For example, if the concept of the Long Tail (originally an article, and now a book by Chris Anderson), is applied to the cable industry it suggests that cable’s “walled-garden” content paradigm is going to be undermined by broadband’s infinite choice and personalization. I wrote an extensive piece about this way back in March, 2005 and I think it’s truer now than ever.
    All of the panelists have a great vantage point to comment on the Long Tail’s impact on cable. Bob and Joe come from publishers (print and online respectively) that haven’t done a lot with video previously, but are now aggressively pursuing it. Karl has started a specialty video distribution business that is only possible due to broadband. Doug’s company is leveraging broadband to create many new broadband experiences. Finally Ian’s company is powering many broadband video initiatives from established and startups.
    All in all, this group will bring an invaluable perspective to attendees trying to figure out how the video proliferation that broadband is causing will impact their corner of the cable business!
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