Can this vlog be saved?

I have no idea what’s happening behind the map at Rocketboom with Amanda Congdon gone and Rocketboom grounded. I’ve known Amanda and Andrew Baron since the early days and like and respect them both. I also saw some creative tension there but I think that’s part of what made Rocketboom good. I hope that they manage to get back together or that they each go on to create great new things. The one thing I hope doesn’t come of this is dead air.

: Here’s the Washington Post’s report. Yes, vlogging is big news.

: LATER: Here’s Heather Green’s reporting in Business Week. She gets to Baron with more. I disagree with one thing Heather and other reporters who’ve emailed me have said. Heather:

And it’s bound to raise questions about the viability of video blogging as a sustainable business.

Plenty of blogs, newspapers, magazines, shows, networks, you name it, have changed or folded and it doesn’t say anything about the entire medium.

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  • Jeff Milten

    Life will go on….

    There’s still Rachel from 88SLIDE
    Lala from TIKI BAR
    Cali from GEEKBRIEF

    It’s sad, but all good things must end. She’s gonna land on her feet.

  • Heather Green

    Hey Jeff,

    I understand your point. But I do think it raises questions because the medium is just starting out and Rocketboom is the pioneer in trying to figure out a sustainable commercial model. I think there is still a lot to be proven here, and I don’t know what the result will be (what kinds of vlogs or vlog networks will make the jump). But this is hard, in part because the advertisers have been slow to jump in. Too slow, in my opinion.

  • I agree. It’s a shame. It was a great show. But, for Amanda, this was likely a stepping stone to greater things.

  • Ed Rusch

    When the leading business in a segment goes under for financial reasons, it is an indicator of the health of the rest of the segment, Jeff. I know you’re desperate to push blogs as a viable business to ensure yourself a steady income as a consultant, but these are not good times on the business side — and it’s the folks on the front likes (like Nick Denton) sounding the alarms.

  • chico haas

    Honestly, Amanda was not engaging (mugging never is) and the whole thing had this self-conscious amateurish quality reminiscent of “I know where there’s a barn, let’s put on a show.” Best case: somebody buys the name who knows production, pacing and writing and maybe it works.

  • Andrew and Amanda are both very capable and I believe they’ll do fine in the future. Just like rock bands break up after spending months on the road, these guys are breaking up.
    It’s big news because they have a big fan base that is attached to the show, but I don’t think it’s any reflection of the economic viability of vlogging. It might even help by bringing all this attention to videoblogging.

    Videoblogging (or whatever we want to call this stuff) is going to do fine as medium, with or without Rocketboom. It’s already successful as art, entertainment, and education It’s not like commercial TV.
    Vlogs don’t all have to make a profit, since it costs so little to make them. A tiny minority of vlogs will be financially viable and that’s fine.

    Like watercolor painting, most people will do it as a hobby, but a few focused, talented people will be able to make a living at it, if that’s what they want. It isn’t easy to make a living from making art, and it never will be. The great thing about vlogging is that it opens things up to a bigger talent pool. Some of those talented people will have the luck and right mix of skills make a living from it, and the media scape will be the richer for it.

  • Ed Rusch

    “they have a big fan base that is attached to the show”

    Why do you assume that? Audiences, especially on the video side of things, are notoriously fickle.

    The amount of spin from fanbois in this thread and site is breathtaking.

    “Vlogs don’t all have to make a profit”

    But at some point they do for entrepreneurs, and that’s the point of this reporting. It was always clear there was a limit to what they could do with a rather amateurish production, and apparently they reached that limit.

  • OK, Eddie boy, you’ve established well that you don’t like (a) me, (b), blogging, (c) vlogging, (d) anyone here. Now what do you have to say? It’s still a tiresome act. You seem to like leaving comments everywhere like little gifts from heaven. Why not start your own blog so we can hear what you really have to say, where you might argue for something instead of just always against.

  • Hey check it out, we’re all focusing on the medium and not content-that-attracts-large-audiences. Replace ‘vlog’ and videoblogging’ with ‘content’ and see how it reads.

    Everything old is new again, eh?

  • Ed Rusch

    Why do I keep posting? Because I am endless amused by your blog triumphalism and how you invoke it in almost every context. Because I am endlessly amused by your embrace of blog triumphalism as what you probably considered to be a good career move — it seems like the only people truly, madly passionately pushing blogs are middle-aged white men like yourself who a) see it as a way to revive a flagging career and b) who don’t see that the publishing world has already subsumed the blog as just another publishing platform no more special than any other.

    You remind me of all those programmers at the turn of the century who assume that because they knew HTML they were “editors.” They quickly melted away when the publishing pros came in, and that’s exactly what’s happening here.

    Oh, Jeffy, I admire your passion. We actually worked together for a while. And I think you’re a pretty smart guy. But all you can do is argue for the use of a hammer –a blog — even when the problem has nothing to do with a nail. Eric Rice hit the issue right on the head.

  • So Eric Rice is the voice of reason. Hmm, i didn’t know that. Good points. Jeff you get emotional you lose buddy. This is your house-you don’t need to go there.

  • Mark.
    Emotional? Hardly. Just bored with the guy.

    Why don’t you share with the people who you are and what you do like? All you ever say is what you’re against.

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  • bit torrent

    To have 250,000 viewers a day and make no money most of the time takes some doing. And online for 18 months? Even a few Google Adsense ads on the website would have brought in some cash. But they didn’t even do that.

    The biggest and best known video blog in the world and in what respect was this a ‘sustainable business’?

  • Andy Freeman

    > But I do think it raises questions because the medium is just starting out and Rocketboom is the pioneer in trying to figure out a sustainable commercial model.

    The only thing that happened is that Ms. Congdon thought that she could make more money elsewhere. That no more signals the doom of vlogs than Madonna trying to make movies signaled the end of pop music.

    If vlogs are viable, they’re viable regardless of whether any one person or company participates.

  • Let’s hope you’re as wise as you appear to be, Andy hon. And all this UnBoomed back and forth is starting to sound a bit like another infamous creative bust-up. Would Mario be the Yoko Ono (2.0) in all this drama? Hmmm… tune in tomorrow!

  • Ed Anuff

    The reason why it raises questions about the viability of the medium is because if the vlog business model hinges on retention of specific on-screen talent and can’t pay competitively to keep that talent, then it’s not going to work. It becomes too much like the economics of television in a medium that’s just not generating the same revenues. Blogs as a business are starting to work because, for the most part, traditional media competitors aren’t poaching the talent out of them.

  • Effective business models for successful long term blogging, vlogging, podcasting, etc. have yet to be mapped out just yet. Hopefully we’ll see deep discussions as to HOW these things can become profitable and viable over the long haul.

  • bit torrent

    I agree it is difficult to make money if your ‘product’ is an online video because the business model for that isn’t in place. But there are plenty of things they could have done, which would definitely have produced an income.

    Give people who watch the video a reason to visit the website (put up extra material to compliment the video), put ads on the website.

    One of my sites brings in 2.6 cents per visitor from Adsense. That is for every visitor to the site, not click throughs.

    At that rate, if Rocketboom could have attracted 10% of 250,000 viewers to the website each day, it could have meant $650 a day in Adsense income. £237,000 a year…

    If they weren’t interested in the website and didn’t have the web skills (and the signs are they didn’t) they could have paid someone to do it.

    That is just ONE thing they could have done. I can think of several others.

  • The fact that Amanda’s departure has generated so much discussion and news says something about the model doesn’t it?

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