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Liveblogging a VON session with Jeff Pulver, Vinod Khosla, and Nokolas Zennstrom of Skype (and Joost). For those interested, click on more.
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.