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– Jeff Pulver gives advice to college graduates
-Cult of Mac has new details about the new iPhone – or not…
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Kfir Pravda And Friends Cutting Through The Hype
Video sharing sites are all around the place. Since YouTube fame, everyone are trying to create portals that will capitalize on online video consumption growth.
But, at the end of the day, most market players are offering vast amount of content to their viewers – all in the name of content democratization.
Open and honest, I am a bit tired of that. I don’t want a lot of content – only good content. I don’t need another portal with tons of video clips – I want only the ones that worth something.
The area of content discovery is very complex, and I’ve written about it in the past. There is still a lot to be done in this direction.
But, is there a room for a site with only 10 shows, but all of them amazing (like Something To Be Desired and We Need Girlfriends)? Is there a place for a destination with high quality content only – the best of web shows? In other words, does it make sense to create a brand that only broadcast the best shows, and is a sign of quality, just like HBO logo is for me?
What’s YOUR opinion?
I have to admit that I have a weak spot for Blip. Unlike most companies, they are really out there with the community. Though derived from a clear business agenda, it is still impressive to see their commitment to this segment.
Furthermore, while Blip could have taken the popular direction of viral user generated content, they focused on mid tail, semi professional and professional episodic content. Add that to the fact that there is no copyright infringing material on their site – and you have a different kind of player in the saturated video sharing market.
In our call we reviewed the new player, which allows viewers to watch episodes of their favorite shows in one flow. This feature give a TV like experience to viewers, or as Justin Day, Blip’s CTO, noted, let people fall asleep in front of Blip – does anyone need something more than that for TV experience?
Blip also released a new ad product that adds a non intrusive ad to the lower part of the video feed:
Blip are in a very competitive market. With Veoh new products out there, new video sharing sites launching by the day, and no clear technology advantage to any of the main market players, it is hard to forecast who will win the market.
However, as Dina (who had her Bat Mitzvah at Masada) said: “we believe the key is to stay humble, work with the community, and learn from others”.
In a market where technology doesn’t provide competitive advantage, this down to earth approach might well be the key to Blip’s success.
Blip.TV, NYC based private company focused on content delivery and revenue distribution with creators, just raised more cash for their operation.
The round was led by Ambient Sound Investments from Skype fame, which noted the narrow focus of Blip as a major differentiation form other video sharing sites – as blip are not approaching the viral market.
I’ve met Dina Kaplan, Blip.tv COO and was impressed with her commitment to the creators. She also gave some good points re the direction the market is heading, with a mix of off site ads and sponsorships.
However, focus doesn’t come for free, as this graph, comparing Blip.TV visitors to Veoh, geared also toward viral videos, shows that Blip has significantly less unique visitors and grows slower than Veoh.
I hope that Blip will have deep enough pockets to continue with slower growth than the viral market, but more loyal viewers and creators.
My friend Chris wrote an insightful article in killerapp about the role of meta-aggregator in the online video market. The story is simple – there is a major problem today for both content creators and viewers – find something good to see. There are a lot of shows, and it is hard to find the good ones (and I’ve blogged a lot about what’s good for me – though not sure it is right for every one). Meta aggregator (like Network2) are solving this problem by being both platform agnostic (meaning that you can find there content from Blip.tv, Veoh, YouTube etc) and getting rating from users and editorial team in order to find good shows.
Being platform agnostic is a key issue in my opinion. The market is not dominated by a major platform yet, so from viewers and content creators point of view there is a need to both consume and distribute media across all platforms. Also, inclusion of main stream media shows in these sites is crucial, as it will help smaller content creators to be found (people who are looking for the latest 24 episode will also see indie production based on their taste).
How can these companies make money in this model? Well, some meta aggregators will go the advertisement path, and some will take the distribution path.
I wonder how this segment will unfold.
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.
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.
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…