Posts Tagged 'AppleTV'

TV Challenge Part 2: Mark Cuban, Platforms and Messages

Mark Cuban wrote a thought provoking post about content and platforms:

…One thing is becoming increasingly clear, while more people are “snacking on Internet video“, the real “meal” continues to be TV….Events look great on HDTVs, whether they are sports, shows or movies. Quick hits and short clips are great for the internet. Sure some people will watch shows that perform better on other platforms on the net. We all use what we have available when its our only choice. Which is why so much video consumption online is in the office. Its our only choice. Replays and breaking news and anything that helps us kill time are what we will use our MIDS, PDAs, and phones for.

The platform is the message from viewers to content providers.

Reading his post made me think about the basics.

TV or TV Set?

In the past, TV and TV set were the same thing. You couldn’t watch TV shows, unless you had a TV set. TV sets where connected to a broadcaster which in turn provided content to TV sets.

Today the situation is different – you can buy TV shows in iTunes, or watch them online. Therefore, TV, at least for me, is a creative definition. The Wire is great TV. Olympics is a great TV event. But I can watch these events and shows on different devices – computers, HDTV sets, iPods, etc.

TV set is still the best way to watch long form content. It is the closest thing to movie theater you can get. Events, movies and high end shows will always look better on that set.

Internet – Distribution or Format?

The internet changed its form over the years. It is true that internet videos are short – as users tend to view them in short breaks in work, and due to the form factor (small screens). But when I connect my laptop to my TV – there is no difference in the experience . Therefore there shouldn’t be any difference in the format. And when online video becomes another part of the EPG, who cares where did the content come from? When AppleTV can deliver both high end movies and low budget indie flicks directly to your TV through the Internet – what is the platform? Is it TV or Internet?

The Missing Link

Like in every vision, the missing link is a business model. In my opinion, if online distribution and monetization would have been profitable enough, we would have seen more direct to internet TV quality shows. As long as the average online video CPM is 12$, nothing will change the current level of Internet originated productions. But I am positive that things will change as ad dollars are going online.

What’s your opinion?

How to make my mom watch Internet TV

Internet TV is one of the most important development in the world of television and media in the last 10 years. The ability of creators to shoot and distribute shows in a fraction of the budget needed just 5 years ago is certainly a disruptive force in the industry.

However, this market is still a niche, with low viewership compared to traditional media. This is a double edged sword – on the one hand there are a lot of opportunities to capture the market, but on the other hand, without getting money flowing to this industry, most of the players won’t survive – and we will miss this opportunity for good.

So why aren’t (more) people watching?

When talking with close circle of friends and colleagues, I got answers that can be divided to two main categories:
1. It is not simple enough to watch Internet TV
2. There is nothing to see

Drilling down the first category, I’ve encountered questions such as: what the hell is RSS, what is the difference between channel and a show, what are all those buzz words (UGC for example), and why can’t people just open their TV and watch this content like the rest of the shows out there. Another important issue raised was that there are many shows, and viewers don’t really know which ones are good.

Companies are trying to answer some of these questions – content discovery and AppleTV are good examples. However, on the semantic side, we are doing a very bad service to our potential viewers. I am developing a longer post about this topic, that I hope to publish soon.

The second category is much more complex in my opinion. While we can find common language rather easily, and companies are developing technologies and approaches for content discovery, content development poses a major obstacle to medium adoption. What is our target audience? We have a lot of shows targeting technology geeks and cooking lovers. The reason is simple – geeks are open to watch quality content in their subject matter in new mediums, and cooking shows answer two important needs -they have a clear market, and can be produced in relatively low budget. But what about approaching other segments? When will we have Sopranos, Prison Break, and Heroes level of shows, in Internet TV only production? Will this content increase online viewership?

In other words, what are the main barriers of Internet TV adoption? Technology, clear language or the content itself?

Tomorrow, 12th of June, in Podcamp Europe, I am doing a brainstorming session discussing all these questions, at 1500. If you are in Stockholm, drop by (free entrance) to voice your opinion. Feel free to leave comments on this post, and help us enrich the discussion.

UPDATE – see discussion results here.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

 

The Secrets of a Good Fiction Web Show (I) – The Plot

Producing a web show is a complex task. Usually we work without budget, and on top of our day job. The market is in its infancy, so it’s still a challenge to attract viewers. Many aspects of the format are not clear, such as interactivity, format, and length (a key point raised by Justin).

My approach to tackle these issues is that no one can beat a good story.

In this post I’ll share my thoughts on ways to create a compelling fiction episodic web show. Something to be desired (STBD) is an example of such a show – continuous story, with core characters.

The aim is to initiate an open brainstorming between new media producers, writers and actors, via the blogsphere, twitter, and all those nice 2.0 tools we have today.

The challenge

For me, the main challenge in writing dramatic web show is how to retain viewers in a continues story. I believe that the tool to do that is to create dramatic continuity and emotional attachment with the main characters.

How can we achieve that?

Here are the main elements :

Length– Justin wrote an eye opening post about his struggle with episode length and frequency. This issue is not only dramatic -it affects both production logistics and cost. I believe that length of a chapter is of importance – it shouldn’t be 20 seconds cause it is almost impossible to maintain a plot at this length, nor should it be half an hour due to budget constraints and viewers attention span. But the difference between 5 minutes episode to 10 minutes episode is not as important as the first 30-60 seconds. This time frame has to be very engaging in order to keep viewers watching. Both Something to be Desired and Galacticast are doing a great job in creating strong opening for each episode.

Cliffhanger – nothing new here. Cliffhanger is a must in my opinion at the end of each episode. This is the key to get viewers engaged with the show. It requires pre-planing of almost a whole season, or at least a block of episodes, but its importance cannot be overestimated. It is the link to the future of the story from viewers point of view.

Link to the past – some viewers didn’t follow the show from its beginning. it is extremely important to get them involved as soon as they see any episode. Some believe that additional information on the show’s website will do the job. I tend to disagree. I watch my shows on Democracy player, and others watch them on AppleTV, and on sites like Blip.tv. These viewers never get to the website. Furthermore, people want to be entertained, nothing else. We should make their life as easy as possible. I think that the best solution for this problem is “last week on…” clip at the beginning of every episode. Simple, cheap, and viewers already used to it.

Limited amount of characters and plot lines– we need to get people engaged quickly. In order to do that we should have minimal amount of lead characters. This will ease the process (and cut production costs). Supporting characters should always stay in the background, if at all.

Subtext – I am a sucker for subtext. That’s why I am such a big fan of “The Wire“. Subtext fills the characters, their relations, and the plot as a whole, with substance, and make the viewers think about what they see. However, it might be a personal fetish 🙂 .

What are YOUR views on these topics? What else is needed plot-wise in order to create good fiction web show?

I’ve tagged this post with the word story. feel free to tag your relating posts in the same way.

For inspiration, here is a short video clip of Robert McKee talking about Chinatown script.

Delivering Web Video to TV – How Will It Affect Content Creators?

In the recent months we see new ways to deliver web videos to your television. Apple TV, and Tivo’s new features are just two examples of this trend. With new Media Centers out there, we can assume that this trend will increase in both magnitude and importance.

How will it affect the world of independent content creators? I believe that this process is a double edge sword:

1 . We will see more exposure to independent content creators – as shows like Ask a Ninja and Something To Be Desired will be shown on living room TV sets, one of the major barriers of entry to these new media creators will be removed – people won’t need to watch video online, but in their regular TV. Though seems logical, I believe that this process will take some time to happen. Though Tivo users are not necessarily early adopters I still believe that it will take some time till my mother will use media center. Therefore, it is not clear how many new users will start watching web shows, as I assume that media savvy early adopters already watch them.

2. Production quality will rise – though current production quality of indie content creators is very good, when moving from small video screen in a web site to full blown TV format, things change. In the 3D animation company I had in the past, we had a clear distinction between productions for internet, mobile, television, and cinema as the effort to create high quality show is correlated with screen size in some aspects. Small details are more apparent.

3. And it will be harder to beat the competition – today most people do not expect the same level of product from internet video as they expect from television show. When users will be able to see a web show, and a minute later another episode of Studio 60 or Prison Break, their level of expectation will change, starting with script level, through actors, and general production value. This is THE major challenge for indie content creators in my opinion – as they begin to be an alternative to regular television.

4. Indie content creators will change the type of content they are creating – from short, 5-8 minutes flicks, to longer formats. The attention span in television is longer than in the internet, and people are willing to watch longer formats there. However, it might prove to be the killer of this industry. Longer formats are usually more expensive, and complicated to produce. As production cost and complexity rise, the competitive advantage of indie content creators, the ability to create quality content cheaply, is lost. Time will tell if there are enough talented creators to face the high profile, high cost productions out there. It might be that this will be the first wave of Creative Darwinism, when only the most talented content creators will survive.

How do you see it?

More to come…


Bookmark Me

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
Add to Technorati Favorites

Top Posts

Kfir Pravda's Facebook profile

Archives

Some del.icio.us love!