Posts about Exploding_TV

A visit with Webcameron in London

While in London, I went to the Conservative Party headquarters — new and sparkling white, with a view of the river just down from Parliament — to meet Sam Roake, who’s making his leader, David Cameron, a star of small TV. I wanted to hear his advice for the American candidates now dabbling in the TV of the people.

Roake is a personable, low-key, and smart chap in a suit with no tie, the uniform of our next leaders. He’s a veteran of Google AdWords. Yes, Google will take over the world. And then no one will wear ties.

2007, Roake says, is the year of video and social networking. He sees the two closely linked.

The web team — which so far is Roake and one colleague — have Cameron answer five questions a week from voters, three of them voted up by the public, Diggishly, and two he selects.

Then they have videos of him “out and about” anywhere in the world, talking to the camera with his thoughts and experiences. That happens about three times a week, but Roake said they’d do more with more resources — that is, one more staffer.

He says Cameron’s videos need little editing. Once they’re done, they go up on his site and on YouTube.

Roake argues that the videos enable their man to speak directly with voters and it helps them present their man in a candid, human way. “To be genuinely candid,” he says, “you have to talk about yourself as a person.” He says that to make this medium work, politicians have to switch “out of politician mode.”

The videos have been remixed and spoofed. But that hasn’t worked to the party’s disadvantage, Roake says. A labor MP made a parody of Cameron’s video and — I heard this tale from 18 Doughty Street‘s Iain Dale as well — it was so far off the mark (like a cringeworthy late-night skit), he had to apologize. The people from the show This is a Knife also made a parody called Blind Dave. And see the video by pioneer Parliamentary blogger Tom Watson tweaking Webcameron but wishing Labor had its equivalents:

Not having snit fits about all this apparently makes it look as if Conservatives have a sense of humor. They also want the videos to show that Conservatives are open and innovative. Roake says Labor isn’t doing this because they are “more focused on control.”

Roake acknowledges when I ask that it’s a bit different for the party in power. But then I ask whether they would continue their video strategy if they took power and he says they’d pretty much have to. “If it suddenly stopped, that would be seen as a very cynical move,” he says. The form would “evolve as the job evolves…. You can’t stop communicating.” This, Roake says, is a “new stage of politics” that is about a “sustained dialog with the public.” This was the kind of talk we heard from Gordon Brown about blogs at Davos. Once Brown ascends to power, I suspect they’ll be tripping over themselves to seem web-cool. As a head-of-state vlogger, Germany’s Angela Merkel already beat them all to the punch (though with a characteristic and militant lack of flair); she, too, is answering citizens’ questions online (here, auf Deutsch). Coming soon: Fireside vlogging. The White House Show with ___________.

But Roake emphasizes that vlogging isn’t the same as old TV though the American candidates are still treating it as if it were. They are broadcasting. The audience is different, he says, and the medium is different. His advice for our vlogging pols:

Don’t make the videos scripted and spun. Involve the voters: respond to them and address them by name. “See them as people who want to engage with you.” He says they need to be “personal, open, spontaneous.” Have someone with a camera along as much as possible to capture “off-the-cuff moments.” If you just have someone come 15 minutes a week to get one video, it won’t work. If you show events with lots of people, he says, balance that with more personal videos. Don’t sweat the production value.

Now, of course, it’s hard to believe that everything in politics isn’t always spun. Saying you’re not spinning is spin. But I take the point: don’t shrink-wrap the message and the candidate.

I ask why he thinks that the leaders in small TV in Europe tend to be conservative — Cameron, Sarkozy — while in the States, it’s the liberals who’ve taken the lead. Roake acknowledges that “a lot of it has to with being in opposition” and not immersed in the business of government (the podcasting, vlogging Merkel excepted). Then he spins just a bit: “The conservatives are less of a top-down government.”

Roake plans to help small TV spread in his party, getting more MPs to join the fun, joining a few leaders, including blogging Boris Johnson and vlogging Grant Shapps. He says that “any party serious about engaging in social media could do it.” And will.

(Crossposted from PrezVid)

OPA: Jeff Rayport and video

I’m at the Online Publishers Association confab in London and Jeff Rayport is leading off. He is a former Harvard Business School genius (former HBS, still a genius) now leading a consultancy called Marketspace. I’m taking extensive notes because he’s sure to be provocative and this will be on the final. From his Powerpoint and spiel:

He says the challenge for online publishers is to “build volume through aggregation and margin through engagement.” Trends:

* “Community is the new engine of content creation,” his PowerPoint says. I’d day that content is the gas of the community engine.

* “Social networks are the new distribution channels.”

* “Social intelligence is the new source of editorial filters.”

* Tools and applications are the new editorial bundles.”

* “Multiplatform is the new basis of online ‘publishing.’ ”

* “Video is the new lingua franca of online content”

Now to the strategies he recommends. Note how big-company-centric they are (I argue that you have to see yourself not at the center but at the edges, serving the community at the center, but more on that later). Powerpoint quotes:

* “Own the audience: Overwhlem the microcosm. Deliver shock and awe in content abundance by geography, interest, or identity.” Where do I start? We’re not an audience and you can’t own us. And you likely can’t awe us either. His example is Toyota’s launch of Scion because they are selling cars “designed to be completed by the owner.” Or I’d say, owned by the owner. He says this was the first major auto brand launched with no television but with web and interactive media. Online, his examples include the knot for “condition” (“it touched 85 percent of weddings” last year), femail for identity from the Daily Mail in the UK, xionet.com (a Chinese Facebook, the second-largest social network in the world after MySpace) for location, bebo for interest (a MySpace up-and-comer in the UK). He says that online, “audience growth is often strongest where community is most palpable” — e.g., The Economist, The New Yorker. He’s not wrong but I still say he’s looking at this the wrong way. These things an help enable people to do what they want to do or to do what they already do better. Flip the model: You’re not at the center, we are.

* “Claim the community: Ensure membership has its rewards. Forge communities of conviction and reward loyalty.” His example is online travel and “gives us cause for great hope for claiming the relationship.” In content, he argues that free content “drives volume or traffic” while bundles of proprietary offerings “defy aggregation;” he uses Times Select as an example because it “drives pricing power.” Insert standard argument here.

* “Work the web: Let the outside in… and let the inside out. Adopt ‘open source’ thinking as an aggregator while exploiting network effects. This, he says, is the network effect. Letting the outside out is Progressive Insurance providing quotes from other insurers. Letting the outside in is Starbucks pushing into consumer environments (aka grocery stores) instead of just pulling them into destinations (the Starbucks store). Sure. This is about a newspaper providing links to the world and about going to where the people are. This is Google. Citizen journalism is letting the outside in. He says the more interesting story this year is citizen editing. Yup. Factoid: “up to 60 percent of YouTube’s streams are viewed on third-party websites.”

* “Design for occasion: Make each interaction a divine revelation. Customize online content interfaces for consumption contexts and occasions.” He says that Daily Candy is an example of form-factor optimization. Oh, my, that’s a fancy way to say it. But yes. Factoid: Daily Candy commands CPMs as high as $280 and is on track to generate $18 million in revenue in 2006 with margins over 60 percent.

* “Integrate the experience: mandate a unified field theory. Orchestrate multichannel delivery to establish best ecosystem.” Example: American Idol spreads internationally and into mobile and the internet and merchandise and concerts. Being a former business school academic, he draws a two-by-two martric: Amateurs acting like amateurs (e.g., Numa Numa guy), professionals acting like amateurs (e.g., LonelyGirl15), amateurs acting like professionals (ZeFrank, AskaNinja), professionals acting like professionals (e.g., OK Go, Beppe Grillo, and, surprise, me at PrezVid).

He has five strategies, “x factors” for online video (from Andrew Heyward).

* Extend content you have and bring it to online media.

* Expand video activities to make new and experimental forms of content.

* Expose (let the outside in; e.g., NY Times wedding videos, Le Monde user videos).

* Explode (let the inside out; syndication, in other words).

* Exhale (you don’t know what will work so relax).

There’s a lot of meat in this. I might grill some of what he fries, looking at things from a different perspective (ours v. theirs), but I think he brings together important observations, conclusions, and recommendations.

Discuss.

* * *

Next is a panel with Betsy Morgan of CBSNews.com, George Kliavkoff of NBCU, Alberg Cheng of Disney-ABC, and Tony Ageh of BBC internet with Larry Kramer moderating.

Betsy says that they are sold out in video advertising and that’s why they are syndicating their content to get more inventory. Kliavkoff, who extolled the virtues of marketing by putting clips on YouTube (yea), says that CPMs are high for online video but there is a shortage of quality inventory. He argues against the dreaded “user-generated content” usage saying that Spielberg is a user, too. He says the lesson of YouTube is that it doesn’t matter whether it’s amateur or professional; quality wins (I agree in spirit but in specific, it’s hard to judge the quality of a flaming fart and so quality is what you have to seek and find).

Betsy tells the story of her sister-in-law, who got Direct TV and made an either-or decision: TV or internet. She chose internet and she’s now watching her TV via the internet, including paying for shows via iTunes etc. See yesterday’s post about the end of the remote control clickers.

George says that an SEO company trying out for a gig with NBCU made measurements on the sly, looking at blog talk about shows from five weeks before they launched and then compared the ratings five weeks later. No surprise (to us): We the people formelry known as the audience (now known as the programmers) predicted that Heroes was a hit and that other shows would not be hits.

I asked the group to give advice to the makers of new TV at the Video on the Net conference I’ll be attending in a week and a half. Betsy said they are seeing “microjournalists” who are expert and credible and they’d like a relationship (promotional and commercial) with them but also need a trust system to help determine who is good (a system used by the public, not the network). George advised focus (serve a topic and stay on topic) and scale (get distributed). Larry advised aggregation, putting together shows/sites in networks large enough to be worth advertisers’ effort.

Exploding TV: No more remote clicking

I realized recently that my kids simply do not surf TV channels; they watch what they want to watch and they find out what they want to watch from friends and favorite sources. And they watch on their own schedule. Now TV Week reports that they are hardly alone:

Today’s younger viewers in the 18-to-39 age group regularly watch TV on an on-demand basis, with some watching TV programming only on their computers. Within seven years, that generation probably will consume 80 percent of its TV on-demand via broadband, DVR, iPod or VOD, said Kaan Yigit, analyst with Solutions Research Group in Canada, which issued the report “Digital Life America” to its TV network and studio clients last week. . . .

Indeed, when grouped together, on-demand viewing is not marginal at all — it’s the wave of the future, he said. With the exception of perhaps 10 major TV events, such as the Super Bowl and the finale of a show like “American Idol,” the new generation of TV viewers will be watching shows on-demand, with a remote or keyboard in hand.

Already, 50 percent of adults 18 to 39 have watched TV shows on-demand online, on VOD or on a DVR or iPod on a monthly basis, according to the study. To put that in perspective, five years ago virtually none of these viewing options existed. . . .

“You give on-demand to people, no matter which way they do it, and they just flock to it,” Mr. Yigit said. “It’s all about saving time.”

That’s why 52 percent of the study’s respondents say they always skip ads when watching shows on DVR. . . .

Consumers also are taking quickly to online viewing. Though TV networks have only started to offer their shows online regularly in the past year, already one-quarter of online Americans over the age of 12 — or about 45 million people — have streamed full TV shows at some point. What’s more, 10 percent of Americans have a TV show stored on their computer and 24 percent have a show stored on a mobile device.

Exploding TV (Guide)

tvg1.jpgTV Guide gave me a sneak preview of their new video search, due out in April. Click on the thumbnail to get your sneak preview of the home page.

The world does, indeed, need new guides to the new television. The old TV Guide wouldn’t suffice because TV isn’t scheduled anymore, it’s on-demand; the choices are unlimited now, as are the sources. So a guide for the new age of TV has to provide the means to search and browse and, I’ll argue, recommend from an endless supply of content to a boundless world of individual tastes.

The new TV Guide search is emphasizing “professionally” created video. As you can guess, I’ll quibble with that. Much of the interesting TV being made online isn’t coming from big companies and studios and isn’t necessarily professional. We need a service to help us find the good stuff among the new stuff. See Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal praising some of this new series TV; he, like I, discovered much of it on Blip.TV. Mossberg also praises another guide, Network2.TV (on whose advisory board I sit).

It’s a damned complicated new dial TV Guide finds itself spinning. So I agree with their mission to find good TV, not all TV; we need a meritocracy of recommendations. I also understand their decision to go with the big guys. They want to serve a mass audience still (though the mass audience remains an illusion and some of the small TV shows being made by little guys are drawing audiences as large as those on big, old cable). They don’t want to provide a guide to flaming farts; the world doesn’t need that. And they don’t want to overwhelm people looking for TV online. So searching just the studios and networks gives them a more manageable world, safer and bigger. But they say they will expand their sources beyond the 50 big-media sites they’re starting with to what they call “semipro content.” I’ll certainly encourage that.

tvg2.jpgNow having said all that, the search is nifty (click on the thumbnail for a view). If you’re looking for ‘The Office,’ you’ll get the show, not office parties on YouTube (though, just to beat this horse, I’d also like to find Office parodies on YouTube). When you search on Office, TV Guide will give you 222 results, all related to the series; Blinkx returns 900,000 results and Google Video 24,000 (only from Google and YouTube), most obviously unrelated to The Office.

TV Guide lets you drill down in any search by network, genre, length, and soon star. Click on an episode and you’ll go to the source and watch it there. That includes going to iTunes, where you can watch, buy, or subscribe. TV Guide is not hosting the videos and doesn’t have relationships with the studios and networks (though they’ll clearly be delighted for the direct links to them). TV Guide will also make editorial recommendations on the home page. And they will be linking to their incredible data base of reviews and listings of shows. No one knows more about TV — at least old TV — than they do. They’ll also point to the most popular shows (as measured by clicks from the TV Guide site). And you’ll be able to create playlists. They’ll enable linking from their very active blog community and also enable users there to upload their own videos. In a later version, we’ll be able to syndicate our playlists to our sites.

Now that some networks are pulling their clips off YouTube (stupidly, I’ll say again) and retreating to their own walled worlds, it is harder to find big-TV shows online. So TV Guide’s timing could be better. That will be the first place to go to find network series online. Now we’ll see who will be providing similarly authoritative guides for the new TV.

Added disclosures: As the producer of two new small-TV series, PrezVid and IdolCritic, I clearly have a vested interest in being found. And I was the Couch Critic at TV Guide for six years in the ’90s. I’m a TV guy.

Oh, and yes, I’m glad to be getting two sneak previews of new stuff in two days. Keep ‘em coming.

: ALSO: The aforedisclosed Network2.TV is giving away $25,000 in prizes for winning videos about “How to Watch Internet TV.” You have a week to enter and explain to big media executives everywhere how TV is exploding. Winners will be announced at the Video on the Net conference, in San Jose in two weeks (I’ll be there).

BBC on YouTube

The embargo just came off a BBC announcement that they’re putting video on YouTube to reach more audience, worldwide. “YouTube is a key gateway through which to engage new audiences in the UK and abroad,” BBC Director-General Mark Thompson said in the release. “It’s essential that the BBC embraces new ways of reaching wider audiences with non-exclusive partnerships such as these.” Smart, those Brits.

The BBC will put up clips of new shows and promotional stuff about such stalwarts as Doctor Who. BBC Worldwide — which, as a for-profit division will take advertising — will show clips from Top Gear, Spooks, shows with David Attenborough, and more. And BBC Global News will provide 30 news clips a day, also ad-supported (and available only to us ferners). From the release: “Users will be able to comment on clips, rate them, recommend them to friends and post their own video responses to communicate with the BBC and other viewers.”

I’ll link to articles when they make it online.

:LATER: Here‘s Media Guardian’s coverage.

The expanding Buzzmachine empire

Jimmy Gutterman at PaidContent gives some nice attention today to my nascent efforts to start shows online at PrezVid and IdolCritic with my partner, former colleague at Entertainment Weekly and Advance Internet, and the guy who’s really doing the work, Peter Hauck. And note well that IdolCritic is made by the talented duo of Mary C. Matthews and the ever-amusing Liza Persky of 39 Second Single fame (which is where I discovered them). I see big opportunity to making little TV. The time is right to jump in. And as Jimmy point out, so’s the price. There’s a need for people to make and reinvent better TV; it’s not all flaming farts. And there’s the opportunity to learn while doing. So please do go watch IdolCritic as Liza brings the American Idol water cooler to your laptop and watch and read PrezVid as it covers the election through the eyes of YouTube. End of plug.

If I were the Oscars (or Viacom)

If I had the Oscars or Viacom — both of whom pulled their clips off YouTube — here’s what I’d do to deal with — no, to exploit and profit from — the inevitable trend toward your audience promoting and distributing your content:

The first goal is to get the audience to pick and recommend your best stuff. That’s free promotion.

The second goal is to make money from advertising, either on the clips themselves or on the pages and videos people come to because they saw the clips.

So I’d work with YouTube et al on new Motionbox-like functionality (which I hear Bright Cove has, too) to enable viewers to pick out segments in the middle of video. And then I’d let them to post those segments on any of the sharing services that enable me to attach ads and make money. So say the Oscars are up at Oscars.com and you can watch them there — and earn the Academy and the network more ad revenue with every click. Say that you can snip and post any two minutes up on YouTube with a click of a mouse. If the clip is already there, it takes you there and registers that you’ve recommended the same thing as someone before you and lets you comment to join in the conversation around the clip (“Can you believe Ellen’s pantsuit?”); having just one version of the clip will lead to better conversation and community. The clip carries my advertising. The video services let me keep my revenue and they report stats to me on viewership. They also promote the clips: “Watch the most popular Oscar moments!” And when people discover those clips on YouTube, etc., they’re pushed back to Oscars.com to see the show — starting with where the clip left off. And I make money showing them advertising there.

What’s not to love? I get free promotion — from my customers! I get free hosting from the service. I get incremental ad revenue both on the clips and on my show. If I have obscure cable shows at odd hours with small audiences (cough! Viacom), I get new audience discovering me. I get branding.

See, that’s the way to exploit and enjoy what’s happening in video anyway. That’s the way to go with teh flow and find new cash flow. Sitting and whining and taking your marbles and going home doesn’t earn you new money and doesn’t endear you to your customers and doesn’t save you marketing money. It just makes you look like an old dolt. And remember: In the post-scarcity media economy, there’s always something else to watch.

That’s what I would do.

: MORE: Here’s what Mark Cuban would do: He’d flood YouTube with tiny clips to harass the viewers there. That’s one helluva way to treat your fans. Does he also serve warm beer at basketball games? Dave Winer suggests:

What if, instead, Viacom told YouTube that they could host clips from their shows, but reserved the hi-rez versions for themselves, and maybe they could have negotiated a link from the YouTube low-rez scan to the one served on their site. Anything would be better than the fractured world that’s being re-created now. Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if users knew they just had to go to YouTube to find what they’re looking for, knowing that it would lead them to a purchasing experience if they want one.

It seems the entertainment industry doesn’t recognize the power of its users. They’re accustomed to dealing with artists and other companies, esp really large ones, but they haven’t learned how to negotiate with the users, and that’s who they have to deal with, if they want a future.

Let’s repeat that: “The entertainment industry doesn’t recognize the power of its users.” Amen, brother.

And Om Malik mocks them:

Instead of being glad that people (the same people who pay for their over the top lifestyles by watching movies) wanted to see some of the clips, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences today asked YouTube to remove the clips.

Don’t they realize that these clips are like milk left on the counter top for too long, and will go sour soon? Don’t they realize that in this era when people are short on time, the three-hour overproduced crap that passes off as the Oscars broadcast is not needed?

Why blame the people for putting short clips on YouTube, and why take them down now? The question is why didn’t either the Academy or ABC offer the clips themselves – thus losing out on potential advertising dollars? Why not work with YouTube and give people what they want?

Preach it.

Rah Rah CBS

When CBS and Viacom split, CBS got the smarts about the future of video. The Times today writes about the network inviting people to put up their videos. And here‘s Les Moonves talking about the benefits of putting the network’s stuff on YouTube: “It’s hard to do an absolute cause and effect, but we know it absolutely is helping. We are looking at every single outlet there is for our content.”