Posts Tagged ‘video’

Where is your viewing community?

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Felicia Day said something interesting yesterday at the Hollywood Web Television Meetup, I am paraphrasing but something along the lines of,

“You have to go to your community, the [viewing] community is anywhere they want to be”.

In the old model of TV, you knew where our community was.  Watching Channel 8 at 7pm, most of them on their sofa.

Today on the internet, this isn’t the case.  You can’t control where people watch your shows and where they talk about you with one another.  Also, everything they talk about is public, in comments, in blogs, in wikis, in social networks…

There’s no intermediary that fronts your story, that takes the flack for scheduling or poor quality content.

You now have a direct link to your viewing community.  You are at the point of the arrow.

It must be empowering, but at the same time overwhelming.

Attention Scarcity in Numbers

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Fred Wilson posted some stats about YouTube and it inspired me to back up the principle that attention is relatively scarce and content relatively abundant (he also talks about this too), it is interesting to use these stats to work out the average ratio of Available Video : Attention.

On YouTube (US numbers only)
Total Attention
80 Million Uniques x 54.7 Average Views x 2.9 Average Mins Viewed ~ 12.6 Billion minutes / Month

Total Available Video
780 Minutes Uploaded Every Minute x 60 x 24 x 30 x 23.3% (US % of worldwide) ~ 7.8 Million minutes / Month

Video : Attention ratio ~ 1 minute : 1616 minutes

So for every minute produced, it is viewed for 1616 minutes.  I didn’t even factor in what is already on the site, this is assuming all attention in one month goes to what is uploaded in the same period of time.

On Traditional TV (US only)
Total Attention
300 million people x 275 Average Viewing minutes per day x 30 days = 2.5 Trillion minutes / Month

Total Available Video
104.2 Channels available on average * 44 minutes broadcast every hour * 24 x 30 days = 3.3 Million minutes / Month

Video : Attention ratio = 1 minute : 750,000 minutes

Content availability is exploding and attention is decreasing.

Attention really is relatively scarce.

Source notes:
These numbers also don’t consider an individuals total viewing minutes across other sites, not just YouTube, but average viewing should increase in line with increases in video availability.

YouTube – Average Videos / Viewer – 54.7
YouTube – Average Minutes Viewed per Video – 2.9 minutes (Numbers from Google Sites Sept 2008)

YouTube – Content Uploaded – 13 hours uploaded every minute (YouTube Sept 2008)

TV – Average Viewing Per Day – 275 minutes per individual

TV – Average Number of Channels Available – 104.2 Channels available on average (2006 numbers)

Discovery questions online economics

Monday, 1 December 2008

Discovery doesn’t see online as a viable option.  They aren’t the first, NBC’s Zucker is famous for his “digital pennies” quote.

The thing is, these guys are spot on.

They are not going to be fired for not giving up all their content online because online isn’t a viable environment in which to see the ROI needed.  You simply can’t guarantee a hit on TV, let alone Online.  There’s way too much competition to drive mass market audiences.  You can’t spend enough money marketing your shows to drive demand.

So what is a online content creator to do?  Well I would work through answering questions in the following steps;

1. To understand where we are today, ask who is viewing my content today?  What else do they like?  Not just my stuff but other peoples?  Where are they viewing it?  How are they sharing it?  What are they saying about it?

2. On deciding what content to create, ask what are people interested in?  What are they searching for?  What areas are growing and why?  What are the memes?  Instead of defining what I think people want (e.g., story about a spy with a split personality disorder) and marketing it to death, how do I plug into people and gain some real insight?

3. On creating the content, how do I involve potential viewers and fans of previous shows?  How do they inform the stories?  How do I keep them warm as I produce the content?

4. Once I create something people want, how do I drive demand?  Where do I make the video available?  How do I make it available?  How do people interact with it?  How do I promote it?  How do I drive revenue from viewership?  What do I let viewers do with it?  How do I let them create complimentary content related to it?

5. Once people are viewing my content, how do I interact with them?  How do I keep track of the communities that form around the content?  How do I grasp who is saying what and why is it important?  How do I track how many views I have?  How do I feed this real time information back into Step 4 to continue to drive demand for the content?

6. Go to step 1 and do it again.

These questions are really no different from the ones that are asked today, except you need to ask the questions with a fresh mind.  You can’t generate audience by spending more and more on advertising to promote your shows.  So ask these questions assuming you have $0 to spend on advertising your new web show.

I don’t know how much runway the major studios have if they don’t really have a plan for internet video, comedy on network TV is already irrelevant as kids look to YouTube instead.

Open Media Web

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Just came across Open Media Web and an interview they did almost a year ago with Lucas Gonze.

Unfortunately the site is down at the moment so I don’t know what else they have done.

The key takeaway is that having an Open approach to Media on the web is fundamental.  There are some really important aspects of where we are today.

  • Video and Audio are ugly step sisters on the internet.  In HTML, text is text with all it’s richness and cultural and literal meaning.  Audio and Video are embeds.  They can never be fully integrated in the the internetwork, they are blobs devoid of any meaning.
  • Not all media on the internet is referencable by a URI.  Many sites, e.g., NBC, keep the video in their own environment and don’t allow embeds.  In fact they hide them behind dynamic javascript.

Lightweight specs like oEmbed are helping to resolve some of these problems and enable openness, but we are far from broad adoption.  Here’s an example from Hulu;

Web Page –

Direct Video Link –

Video Metadata in XML –

I’m looking forward to seeing more lightweight specifications that can open up closed systems.

Device-led programme formats

Friday, 1 August 2008

For a long time many have said Mobile==short form video and TV==long form.

Gerd picks up on the concept of how people viewing modes is bifurcating with the Internet clearly supporting both short and long form.
I’m inclined to agree on the concept that it is driven by the viewer’s situation.  Do different devices (based on screen size?) lend themselves to different length of programs?  Of course not.  It’s about;

a) location – where am I when I want to watch something – what devices are available to me?
b) display – what device suits my current desire for experience?

Looking beyond the last 50 years

Friday, 1 August 2008

Some thoughts on improving the online ad experience for Video.

It’s actually pretty simple.

Don’t copy TV, a 50 year old technology and medium.

The web is different.

Why is everyone trying to make the web feel like TV?

Searching for video online

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Interesting discussion out of a panel at the Digital, Life, Design conference from Munich a month ago. Mahalo, Wikia, Google (in the audience) and others were discussing search and how to best go about it.

The final punch line;

Short Head – Powered by Humans

Fat Belly – Powered by Social

Long Tail – Powered by Algorithms

There’s something really neat about this. That’s not a reason to believe it is the right model, but I really think it warrants further analysis.

My interest is how does this concept apply to video discovery/search?

Also worth reading Chris Anderson’s comment on the post.

Rethinking the Fundamentals of Media Investment – Part 1

Friday, 1 February 2008

Publishers [Studios, Broadcasters, Networks] currently constrain the whole media value system by absorbing the financial risk of investment in media supply, controlling media demand by ensuring distribution scarcity [controlled by them and possibly by regulation]. In return they take a lions share of the value, financial and otherwise. This strategy works.

However, when there is no distribution scarcity and an abundance of media supply, i.e., on the Internet, the model is blown. The current value system can no longer efficiently [and effectively] allocate financial resources to invest in the right Talent to ensure a blockbuster. In fact, the blockbuster can no longer be realised using todays methods.

Any change to the existing model means shifting who participates in the risk of funding media, without guaranteed returns. Looking across the rest of the value system, there are candidates who can take this of investing in supply; the Viewers, the Marketers and the Producers.

A. Viewer Funding. One or more Viewers fund the production of for-profit and non-profit media. The Viewers take the risk, and could have an option and desire to participate in the return. However, funding with an expectation of a return is likely to be treated as a security, limiting the options for how this model works due to regulation.

B. Marketer Funding. One or more Marketers take the risk and fund the production of media (This was how soaps were originally created). The current ROI revenue model for video entertainment, in-stream advertising, is driven by marketer money and this model flips the investment to the beginning of the production process. By committing marketing money up front, and by participating early in the process, marketers have an opportunity to be significantly more involved and relevant to the experience and therefore more than just an interruption to the experience. This however should not mean branded programming and heavy product placement. This is an opportunity to innovate how marketing experiences are created for video.

C. Producer Funded. One or more Producers take the risk and self-fund production. This gives Producers complete control but the only people that can do this are the ones that have funds at their disposal; These are a) Producers with existing revenues to reinvest (high up in current Publisher funded hierarchy) b) Producers with VC backing who are trying to establish a pedigree in the market (there are so many of these today), and c) Producers of user generated content, mostly a labour of love from people with financial and/or time freedom. However, producer funded systems are not financially or creatively scalable as they are inherently limited by reinvestment of revenues. A series of failures, and a Producer could fall just like the Studios today.

So, which will it be? or will a combination of two or all three of the models above?

The Institutionalisation of Hollywood

Monday, 14 January 2008

The production of TV and Film around the world faces exactly the same mass media economic problem.

The current model is simple. Studios take the risk. They scout for and fund the investment and reap the majority of the reward through distribution. The talent is paid a little, with a select few receiving much, much more than others. Basically though, the Studio owns it all.

Off the back of the WGA strike, talent is looking at new ways to create content and keep most of the ownership.

“Virtual Artists will offer professional writers deals to develop and produce films, TV shows and shorts for a reduced fee but a larger ownership stake. It will also look to acquire content.”

This is one example of many groups of talent coming together to seek VC investment; Virtual Artists, Hollywood Disrupted and 60 Frames.

The problem is that these new firms are simply replicating the same mass media economic model, the model they have been institutionalised into. If you think about it, these new firms are simply playing the role of the Studio, but on a smaller scale. They face the same transaction costs to find talent and create new programming that the studios do.

My question. When these new ventures grow, will the TV/Film world look any different? The economics are exactly the same, just spread out over more small/niche/focussed Studios. A bigger pack of wolves, different clothing.

Right now, their offering is to ask the talent to take the risk (reduced fees) and in reward be given a larger share of revenues. Who’s the real winner here?

The new wolves…, and they will have the same problems the studios face. They will not be able to scale investment, production and output. They will have to control tightly what is invested in and what isn’t. They will become the new bottlenecks for talent.

Strategic Delusion #1812 / Treating the internet as a distribution platform

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

“A video destination is just really hard to differentiate,” said Verjee. “It’s really far away from a must-buy for an advertiser or a must-go-to for a consumer.” Verjee is not wrong. With mainstream video content it’s not just hard, it’s IMPOSSIBLE.

Every studio views the internet as just A N OTHER distribution platform, an inert pipe, where they can count up more eyeballs and sell or share more advertising. Networks/Broadcasters such as MTV distribute to anyone that asks, as long as they take the lions share of revenue. How do you differentiate when your competitors have the same content?

GoFish like many others are playing into the hands of today’s dominant players. This strategy does not pay off, the studios/labels will increase the take year after year until they bleed the market dry. Economically, this is no different than what’s happeninged in the music business where people like Bolt and very recently Pandora [UK] have given up because of trouble licensing music for distribution. It just becomes too expensive and unviable.

If you want to differentiate, if you want to have a dominant strategy, you have to start again, build from the ground up and rearchitect the value system. It isn’t easy. You need a revolutionary mindset. You need to reinvent TV.

This means revisiting how video is conceived, produced, delivered and experienced by viewers. From an advertising perspective it means reinventing TV marketing altogether. Advertising can no longer mean, “distribute content bundled with ads to its network partners”. Oh let’s just “bundle” some pre-roll, post-roll, mid-roll, banner ads. This adds ZERO value to the viewer experience, in fact it is detrimental, check out the negative comments on Joost’s Forum re: advertising.

We can’t build on the decaying foundations of the current TV business. There are a bunch of very clever writers striking in Hollywood who could really help shape this, they’ve been trying to advance the video experience for years but have always been stifled by the paymasters [networks].