Video hasn't had a great couple of weeks. The downturn that began with layoffs at Heavy and maniaTV has grown to include layoffs at both Veoh and everyone's favorite online-video geek farm Revision3. Clearly there's a shakeout happening. The online video sector, which was revenue-challenged to begin with, now faces the harsh realities of a rapidly decelerating economy.
Right about now, we all could use some good news. So consider this your good news featurette for the day. And like so many things, it comes in threes.
Thing one: 56 million views for the ongoing Sarah Palin-Tina Fey SNL shenanigans. That's a lot of views! While it could be called an outlier -- the fluke of a red-hot comedian and a left-field VP candidate combining to make comedy gold -- it's also a recurring sketch, and it shows how a major media player gets it and that an audience is now conditioned for this kind of viewing experience. And if you know the audience is going to be there, you can sell against it. (As a side note, NBC also offered up the season premiere of Fey's "30 Rock" on Hulu one week before the premiere.)
Thing two: Strike.tv. This is the byproduct of all those nice writers and their lovely and talented actor friends having nothing to do during last year's writer's strike. Featuring talent from "The Office," "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," and "Saturday Night Live" and the funniest guy you probably don't get enough of, Bob Newhart. Why is this exciting? Because it highlights the continual migration of artists to the medium, and where the artists go, the money eventually follows.
Thing three: the volume of coverage online video now warrants. Two of my daily reads are NewTeeVee (and it's video cousin NewTeeVee Station) and Tubefilter. NewTeeVee covers a broad swath of all things related to online video, including the technology and corporate deal-flow. TubeFilter, on the other hand, focuses exclusively on scripted online video content. After exchanging e-mails with Tubefilter founder Brady Brim-DeForest, I also learned of a third entrant in the Web TV guide field called Tilzy.tv.
Founded in July, Tubefilter (kudos to it for letting me know of its existence by following me on Twitter) publishes news about online shows, such as the ad models they're pushing or the new forms of ad insertions they're using (e.g. "I can't believe its not butter stars in Republicrats!"), and a guide to Web shows. Founded by Brim-DeForest, Drew Baldwin, and Marc Hustvedt, the news service was begun specifically to "organize all the amazing content that was being produced," as Brim-DeForest put it. And given the volume of online programming, inevitably there's going to be a hit.
It really doesn't take much effort to look on the sunny side of this one. When I asked Brim-DeForest how he thinks the downturn will affect the online video space, he responds cheerily, "My opinion is that during an economic downturn, people actually spend more time and money on entertainment, and less on big purchases. Web television is free to watch. I predict the new year will see record audience numbers for the space."
Try to think about that rosy future as you try not to think about which friend or loved one may have to clean out his desk sometime before 2009.
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Todd Krieger is a creative thinker, a connector, and a believer in the power of a good idea. He likes playing among the diverse, and sometimes converging, worlds of publishing, entertainment, technology, and advertising and figuring out how best to leverage each for the benefit of the other.
His bona fides include stints at Microsoft, Yahoo, and Denuo (a boutique consultancy within Publicis). In that time he's produced hundreds of hours of award-winning interactive TV content, including NCAA Final Four Interactive and CSI Interactive. He also relaunched the broadway.yahoo.com vertical in tandem with American Express and helped bring to market the Internet's number one gossip site, omg.yahoo.com. While at Denuo, he worked with "The New York Times," Fox.com, and Condé Nast on how to transition their core print and broadcast assets into the digital world.
Todd has spoken around the world on issues of copyright, technology, and interactivity and has been published in "The New York Times," "Wired," "Premiere," "SPIN," and elsewhere. His book, "The Portable Pundit : A Crash Course in Cocktail Party Conversation" can still be found on Amazon. He lives in Venice, California.
March 19, 2014