Posts about Exploding_TV

Vox pop gagged

ABC squandered an opportunity to get a candidate to respond to video questions from the people. Good Morning America solicited those questions. I submitted one. But they didn’t show one on the air. They should have not only showed one of our questions to Hillary Clinton, they should have put all the videos online so she could answer any and all of them on YouTube.

TV is ours to claim

As I was flying back from San Jose and my spiel at Video on the Net — in which I argued that television is ours to reinvent — I see a most amusing story in the Wall Street Journal that only proves the point. The West Coast TV industry is fighting the East Coasters for handing out Emmys to new-media and broadband shows.

A person familiar with the situation says that the Los Angeles group was concerned that the New York chapter could cheapen the Emmys by handing large numbers of the awards to amateurs who submitted user-generated videos.

Heaven forbid! We wouldn’t want to cheapen TV!

The NBC/Fox gigadeal on video

Just as it was to be announced, I learned about what could be an extraordinary deal between NBC and Fox to go a different way from Viacom in their relationship with online video.

The two networks/studios are creating a new company to distribute TV on the sites where large audiences already are: AOL, MySpace, Yahoo, MSN. All their entertainment video and some of their movies will be available there for people to embed in their own pages. This means that a MySpace user who’s an Office fan could put up a widget allowing her readers to watch the clips and even the shows on her page. The joint venture will create a destination site for all this, but this isn’t a portal play; it’s about finding a tolerable — for them — way to distribute content via fans’ sites.

I’m told that it’s likely this video also may be made available for embedding on lowly blogs such as this — and obviously, I think that will be key. You make the popcorn, and let’s get together to watch American Idol on IdolCritic, eh? I doubt that will come on the first day (and that first day, by the way, is about 100 days away).

The new company will also sell ads and will share revenue with the producers and with the distribution sites (whether that will trickle down to the actual users/distributors, I have no idea; I would imagine that would be up to each of the sites and if they are smart enough to share, then the distribution of this video will only expand and explode).

There’s no reason this arrangement cannot include other producers, networks, and studios. And there is no reason this cannot include other distribution points (read: Google/Yahoo and such). And though this starts with entertainment, I don’t see why it can’t expand to include news and sports. It should.

What’s smart about this is that it potentially provides an infrastructure for the viral, audience-controlled recommendation and distribution of video with the two elements the producers demand — control and monetization (mantras I heard from the big guys at the Video on the Net conference). If this makes this kind of viral distribution profitable, it will cut off objections to it. And that, I believe, will leave Viacom out there dangling naked on Main Street.

At first, the big guys will pick their own clips. I think they have to get quickly past and let us pick the clips, the moments we want to recommend and comment on. Every moment in a show should thus have a permalink that makes it a linkable part of conversations. At VON, I saw a company called Gotoit that enables just this: you can send people directly to that moment you want to talk about. That is vital: We, the people — not the producers, prorammers, and network execs — need to be the recommenders, not the producers; that’s the point of viral distribution

At first, this will also be about just the big guys’ shows and movies. As you can predict, I argue that if they want this to succeed, it also must include small TV, our TV, the TV we are reinventing. That doesn’t mean that they should air all the flaming farts. But the smart things to do will be to find the great new talent and give it a means of distribution and control and monetization — which the little guys want, like the big guys, a point made at the end of my VON spiel. And then the networks will like networks.

I don’t know what this means for NBBC, the very tightly controlled venture NBC started to distribute video. I suspect it will be involved.

If this is done right, it makes viral distribution of video a noninfringing activity. It will legitimize, enable, and exploit what we already want to do: recommend and watch their shows. That would only be smart.

If it is done wrong — if the networks try to maintain too much control and still tell us what to llike and where we can watch TV — then it will fail miserably. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this.

From the Wall Street Journal story:

“This is a game changer for Internet video,” News Corp. President Peter Chernin said in a statement announcing the venture. “We’ll have access to just about the entire U.S. Internet audience at launch.”

The venture will also start its own site, with a name that is yet to be announced, which will go up in the summer. The two companies said “full episodes and clips from current hit shows,” including NBC’s “Heroes,” “My Name is Earl,” “Saturday Night Live” and Fox’s “24,” “House,” “Prison Break” and “The Simpson”s will be available as well as programs from the companies’ TV libraries. Movies will also be available, including “Borat” and “Little Miss Sunshine.”

Here’s the LA Times report.

: LATER: I think some reporters are missing a key part of the story. I think this is less NBC/Fox v. Google in business and more NBC/Fox v. Viacom in philosophy. These guys, unlike Viacom, recognize the power — and the necessity — of the recommendation engine (aka us) as the new means of marketing and distribution. They are trying to do that in a way that feels safer to them and that they can make money on — echoing, once again, the themes I kept hearing from the big guys at VON: control and monetization. If they crack the monetization, then these guys will care (a bit) less about control.

They will succeed if they enable us to recommend, share, and talk about (positively or negatively) their good stuff.

They will blow it if they try to maintain too much control: if they give us only their shows, if they insist on which clips we can embed, if they don’t open up to more programming, if they don’t open up to our putting this stuff in our space (not just Rupert’s MySpace). So we’ll see.

But it’s all about the recommendation engine as the new network.

VON spiel: It’s our TV

Below the more link (which I’m quite fond of today, trying not to bore too many of you with longer spiels) is my Video on the Net spiel. (Here is my last VON talk notes; here is the video.)

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VON: With our hosts

I’m in San Jose at the first day of Jeff Pulver’s second Video on the Net confab. On the stage are three of our video hosts: Dina Kaplan of Blip.TV, Dmitry Shapiro of Veoh, and Robert Petty of Roo with Om Malik moderating. Some live-blogging:

Dina Kaplan of Blip.TV: “This year… we will think about shows as just being shows” no matter where we watch them. More web shows will be available on TV, and more TV series will be available on our computers. So what matters is quality.

Dmitry Shapiro of Veoh says that the producers of small TV are getting more and more resources. This, too, will improve quality and so that means that quality — not medium — is what will matter.

Robert Petty of Roo says that people watch more and more video online. On Roo, a year and a half ago, they watched an average of 4 minutes 30 seconds; last July, that had increased to 30 minutes.

Om Malik says it’s his job to play devil’s advocate and he asks whether we are entering phase two of internet video, when it will be made with the same production value (and cost) that makes broadcast TV “worth stealing.” Dina says that Michael Eisner bought Sam has Seven Friends, a successful web serial, and it was not made to Hollywood standards and budgets. Dmitry acknowledges that when you throw money at something, you will see a difference.

Dmitry says that internet TV is not new TV, it is an evolution of TV as we knew it. I heartily agree. He also talks about watching tech talks on Google and the context, not the production quality, matters in that case. I also say that TV can be overslick and that leaches its authority in certain cases.

Om points to YouTube’s new awards and wonders whether Blip and Veoh will become like networks. Dina disagrees and says that the users are the programmers and so the Blips and Veohs are not in the position to make stars. “We’ve created the first ever entertainment marketplace where the best content rises to the top, not based [on programmers] but on what you people say,” she says.

Dmitry says that he believes in a few years, “every single video on Blip will have the opportunity to be monetized… it may be by the laundromat down the street, but the money will be there.” Later, he says that the money in this space will be “obscene.”

Dmitry says let’s be honest, “we are video hosting sites… but we are the beginning of a new medium I call internet television.” It will start with hosting sites that will evolve with better tools and monetization and such. Om says there are now 367 such sites. Dmitry says there will be thousands. The big problem is how we help people discover content. Amen. How do you look for Lost: search for ‘deserted island’? ‘Weird plot’? So finding the videos will need to improve and so will the viewing experience. “If I go to CBS on my cable box, and then I go to NBC, the user interface is exactly the same.”

J.D. Lassica of Our Media says that today is their two-year anniversary. He thinks they may have been the first. Look at what has happened since…

I ask what the role of these companies will be in the future. I say that I love Blip and Veoh and know investors in Roo and can’t avoid the power of YouTube. I say it’s like dating three women at once: who gets dinner? (I admit that I never had this problem but, hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?).

Dmitry says Veoh serves viewers, producers, and advertisers. “For content owners we provide a comprehensive platform for them to reach their viewer: hosting, syndication, monetization….” For viewers, they provide a player that will deliver videos not just from Veoh but from your own feeds. ” You shouldn’t have to care as the viewer where the content comes from.” Or you may not know what you want to watch and the service tells you. So I think he’s saying that the real role of these companies in the future is as aggregation and recommendation services. “Discovering, consuming, interacting with, organizing….”

Roo says it is not a destination. They provide the tools for partners.

Dina agrees with Dmitry that just as there are thousands of sites that do well serving text on the web there will be thousands for video. But they will be specialized. She says YouTube is about viral video. There will be sites for skateboarding videos. Blip caters 100 percent to people making good shows (that is, series). She says that too their surprise the company is becoming a new-media talent agency. They’ve had two of their shows sign deals with HBO and another with MTV. And Dmitry adds that, of course, the traditional talent agencies are getting involved as well. UTA is here.

Guardian column: Webcameron & 18 Doughty St.

Here’s my latest Guardian column, a buffed-up version of posts I wrote for Prezvid about Webcameron, 18 Doughty Street, and Nicolas Sarkozy and the conservative movement in small TV in the UK. (Nonregistration version here.)

In a video response to Webcameron, David Cameron’s new-age network of tiny TV, pioneering parliamentary blogger Tom Watson wondered why his fellow liberals don’t have an internet channel of their own. Why, indeed? While in the US, it’s the Democratic presidential candidates who are invading YouTube, in Europe, conservatives are leading with their lenses: Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy in France show their candid sides and answer voters’ questions via video. Even German chancellor Angela Merkel, hardly a LonelyGirl15, is podcasting and vlogging. And at 18 Doughty Street, UK conservatives have their own internet talk-show network. Is the internet providing the European right with its Fox News?

While in London, I visited the eponymously addressed 18 Doughty Street, a Georgian townhouse where founder Iain Dale and a staff of 20 produce five hours of live talk TV a night from a studio equipped with seven cameras and an expansive couch. Their programming day starts at 7pm with news summaries, interviews with politicians, and talk shows about politics, the arts and blogs. Because it is live, it is interactive; viewers can send in messages and join the chat. Next viewers will send in videos; Dale gave 100 cameras to contributors who’ll make a show of shows, a bit like a multimedia Comment is Free. And soon, they’ll expand to America with a rented studio and satellite time.

The audience is not yet huge – one to 2,000 viewers at any moment (more than 2,500, Dale says, and their technology would teeter). But he’s getting the audience he wants, including big media. And he drew a quite large crowd, more than 250,000, watching a commercial message they distributed on YouTube that asked us to “imagine a world without America”.

All this comes at an astoundingly low price. Factual programming on US and UK networks costs about £150,000 per hour. A US network executive recently bragged that his digital studio had reduced his cost to £500 a minute. Dale runs the network with a one-year, £1m investment from YouGov founder Stephan Shakespeare and I asked him to estimate his production cost. Subtracting bandwidth and internet, he calculated £70 per hour. So expect more talk online, much more.

Next, I visited Sam Roake, head of Cameron’s web strategy, to learn about Webcameron. Roake sees this as an opportunity to interact. Each week, the team follows Cameron out and about, and get him to answer five citizens’ questions, three of them voted on, Idol-like, by the audience. “To be genuinely candid,” Roake says, “you have to talk about yourself as a person.” Politicians, he advises, must switch “out of politician mode”. I ask whether Cameron would take his web camera to No 10 with him. “If it suddenly stopped,” Roake answers, “that would be seen as a very cynical move . . . You can’t stop communicating.”

This, he argues, is “a new stage of politics” that is about “sustained dialogue with the public.” Note that this is similar to the rhetoric about blogging I heard from Gordon Brown at Davos: “You cannot make political decisions now without people being included in the decision,” he said. “The age of the smoke-filled room is over.”

I asked Roake to give advice to the American presidential candidates now making small TV and he said they must not see this as broadcast TV. They should respond to voters by name: “See them as people who want to engage with you.” He recommends being “personal, open, spontaneous”. But most of all, he said, don’t script and spin your videos.

When I wrote this on PrezVid, my video blog that follows the US 2008 campaign through web video, Watson’s web producer Tim Ireland chimed in, saying that “Cameron’s early broadcasts were very much scripted affairs” and calling his family setting “window dressing”. It was that setting that Labour MP Sion Simon spoofed in a YouTube video that fell flat, forcing Simon to apologise and giving Webcameron more publicity. All politics is spin. Saying you don’t spin is, after all, spin.

I emailed Ireland to ask him the question I posed above: why are conservatives leading in small TV in the UK? He responded with four words: “Blair, money, timing and spin.” And then he added a fifth: Iraq. Yes, that might explain why Labour pols in the UK and Republicans in the US are rather camera-shy these days. But this, too, will change.

Exploding Video: The biz

Frank Barnako has nice things to say about my newborn video effort, Exploding Video, and its first two shows, PrezVid and IdolCritic:

I’m an always looking for a simple idea with big possibilities. The Drudge Report is one of them. One or two guys, constantly scanning the Web as uber-editors looking for sexy, funny, provocative, inside, and shocking stories about money, politics, sex, and entertainment.

Now, Jeff Jarvis and Peter Hauck have launched two online video shows: PrezVid.com, which follows the 2008 campaigns by aggregating video clips from YouTube.com, and a fan show, IdolCritic.com.

Liza Persky, a TV talk show producer, is the talent on the weekly videoblog about America’s favorite TV show. She’s no Amanda Congdon, but at least seems to know what she’s talking about, even if it just a TV show. If you’re an “Idol” fan, while Perksy’s remarks may amuse or anger, you probably can’t hear enough about the show.

Which leads me to one of IdolCritic’s really good ideas. The site has links to Idol-related news, information, EBay-items, Amazon-available products, and blogs. This is such a natural think to include, and useful. Further, since EBay and Amazon have affiliate programs, it’s possible that if IdolCritic visitors make some purchases, Persky/Jarvis may make a few bucks.

Jarvis is convinced that old and new media must involve their readers, by nurturing and supporting communities of interest, even if the focus is a TV show. The Idol site invites people to submit their own “Idol videos” (whatever THEY are), and of course comments are welcome – if few and far between: only 20 after a month, some not so positive. There’s also no evidence of uploaded video.

Jarvis and Hauck are on to something. As Jarvis told PaidContent.org, the cost of doing something like this – anything – is zip. “My son is my Webmaster. I’m editing the video myself, as you can tell. It’s so damn cheap to get started,” said Jarvis. He and Hauck are taking their cues from the front pages of newspapers and conversation at water coolers. They’re showing it only takes eyes, ears, and a little money to set hooks for peoples’ attention. The cost is so low you can afford to try a bunch of ideas, and if one hits, you’re successful.

That was kind of my reaction when Howard Lindzon launched Wallstrip.com. You can do more-than-acceptable video programming with equipment available at Best Buy and, in Wallstrip’s case, talent behind and in front of that gear. Anybody can do Web video now, and every day it seems there’s another portal, video sharing site, or wanna-be Internet TV network that wants your content, and some are willing to pay for it.

What a country.

Yes, I think it’s possible to start something new with TV and so I’m doing it to learn it.

Demonizing us

I’ve been reading Viacom’s boneheaded $1 billion complaint against YouTube. Viacom complains about YouTube but, in truth, they’re complaining about their own viewers. They whine about theft but, in fact, they’re whining about recommendation, about their audience finding them more audience. Viacom is trying, singlehandedly, to turn the TV industry into the music industry. They are trying to spread stupid. From the complaint, notice what they’re really complaining about is their fans (my emphases):

Defendants actively engage in, promote and induce this infringement. YouTube itself publicly performs the infringing videos on the YouTube site and other websites. Thus, YouTube does not simply enable massive infringement by its users. . . .

Because YouTube directly profits from the availability of popular infringing works on its site, it has decided to shift the burden entirely onto copyright owners to monitor the YouTube site on a daily or hourly basis to detect infringing videos and send notices to YouTube demanding that it “take down” the infringing works.

Uh, their complaint there is with the law.

In the meantime, YouTube profits handsomely from the presence of the infringing works on its site.

Not yet.

And even after it receives a notice from a copyright owner, in many instances the very same infringing video remains on YouTube because it was uploaded by at least one other user, or appears on YouTube again within hours of its removal. YouTube has deliberately chosen this approach because it allows YouTube to profit from infringement while leaving copyright owners insufficient means to prevent it.

I’ll requote the guy from Morgan Stanley below: You can’t obstruct markets. You have to anticipate them. You need to go with the flow.

At last week’s Online Publishers Association, Betsy Morgan of CBSNews.com, said that when an infringing clip goes up on YouTube, they take it down and then replace it with a noninfringing, official copy, which has the added benefit of enabling the conversation to cluster around one rather than many copies of the same event. That’s smart. I guess when Viacom and CBS split up, CBS got the IQ.