If you thought the recession and resulting ad spending crunch had dimmed the enthusiasm around independently-produced, made-for broadband video, think again. The market seems to keep chugging along with all kinds of companies and creative talent involved. Here's a sample of the headlines I've noticed in just the last couple of months (some links now require registration):
The list of projects demonstrates both the breadth of participants and concepts coming to market. Some involve established backers like Microsoft or AOL. Others rely on starpower like Lisa Kudrow, Candace Bushnell or Jason Priestly. Some have ties to existing offline franchises like Alloy's "Private" or Meredith's "More" magazine, while others, like DiVide and Generate are in search of brand involvement. Clearly there's no shortage of experimentation in the made-for-broadband space.
Still, discipline is the key to success. That was my takeaway from a conversation I had yesterday with Michael Wayne, co-founder and CEO of DECA, an online-only entertainment company whose properties include Smosh, Momversation, Good Bite and others. Michael notes DECA's success stems from being very analytical about which projects to greenlight. Key success criteria include how large the targeted audience is, how engaged they are (measured by things like blogging, Twittering, commenting), whether other media properties have succeeded with the audience and if there's demonstrated advertiser interest.
Importantly, DECA looks hard for pre-existing online communities or "tribes" along with "tribal leaders" as Michael puts it - people who have emerged from the online rabble to become recognized leading voices in their vertical space. DECA tries to partner with these tribal leaders to build properties that have video at their core, but capitalize on all the publishing and interactive capabilities the web has to offer. Michael notes the need for all of this to be done on very lean, non-Hollywood budgets.
Meanwhile, I've been a believer that the coming convergence era, where broadband is increasingly connected to users' TVs, will further level the playing field for made-for-broadband projects. At some point it could be as easy to watch one of the above offerings as it is to watch "Heroes" or "Lost." Lastly, recent infrastructure and distribution progress, epitomized by last week's news from YouTube and blip.tv, provide further support for these independent producers.
So while the flameouts this year of 60Frames, ManiaTV, Ripe Digital and Blowtorch are reminders that the made-for-broadband space remains plenty precarious, it also continues to be fascinating to watch evolve.
What do you think? Post a comment now.
Categories: Indie Video