Another episode of Mac Anonymous, the show for Israeli anonymous Mac addicts, is online:
Kfir Pravda And Friends Cutting Through The Hype
Another episode of Mac Anonymous, the show for Israeli anonymous Mac addicts, is online:
This post is the first in a series called Meet The Creators, where we interview the people behind some of the Internet’s most interesting video shows.
Political Lunch is one of my favorite video shows. Though I am not an American voter, I find US politics are very interesting, and always looking for unbiased source of bite size information about what’s going on in the presidential elections. Also, Obama’s brilliant use of social media and online video make this elections even more interesting for me.
That’s why I was so happy to meet Robert Mills and start watching Political Lunch – a daily political video show that caters my needs exactly.
Here is a short interview that I’ve done with Robert, with some insights about his show and its affect on American politics:
KP: What is Political Lunch
RB: Political Lunch is the only independent daily news program covering the U.S. presidential election online. We focus on cutting through the spin and drama to deliver short, engaging and informative reports. Our lunchtime episodes are typically 3-5 minutes long, allowing people to get caught up on the news that matters in just a few minutes and go on with their day. We don’t play favorites, and we never lose our sense of humor.
KP: What is the motivation behind this show?
RB:We do this to meet a need. When my partner, Will Coghlan, and I came up with Political Lunch, no online program was committed to covering the campaigns. And most existing coverage of political news online was driven by opinion and ideology, or was simply uninformed. Meanwhile, television coverage in the U.S. has become so dominated by bloviating pundits that it can take an hour to sift through all the spin and get the top campaign stories.
KP: How did you start the whole thing?
RM: I was producing an interview series on current affairs called American Microphone [www.AmericanMicrophone.com] and at the time nobody had produced a high quality political news program online yet. My friend WIll Coghlan had worked in politics and journalism, and when we founded Hudson Street Media we decided to create the sort of program we would like to see: high quality, informative and engaging.
KP: What equipment are you using?
RM: We shoot in HDV on a Sony Z1U and edit on Final Cut Pro. We have a small studio (3×4 meters) with a simple ceiling grid to mount microphones and lights.
KP: What are your views on independent political sites?
RM: Truly independent sites? I would like to see more of them done well. Considering the possibilities, there are few sites which do more than simply advance a particular cause or ideology. Many sites serve just one perspective, often building yet another echo chamber of opinion, and don’t have anything to offer people who disagree. In other cases, some of the most useful political sites are so narrow in their focus that you don’t visit them unless you are seeking something very particular. Because nobody has gotten this quite right, we see an opportunity and we are now in the process of building an integrated network of political sites ourselves. More on that another time though.
KP: What are your views on the affect of online video on the presidential elections?
RM: Most importantly, every word a candidate speaks may be recorded. And when something troubling comes up, word spreads quickly. Candidates sometimes believe that online video has less of an impact because the audience is smaller. But when something goes viral, it’s very powerful. Also important is the kind of audience a candidate reaches. The online audience is usually small compared to television, but programs like Political Lunch have viewers who influence others. People who are getting their news from programs like ours are more likely to be early adopters of technology, more likely to be well informed, and more likely to tell their friends and family about something they learn while watching the report. I think this niche audience will have a much larger impact on the elections than many expect.
KP: what did you learn from working on your show?
RM: The simplest ideas are often the best.
KP: What is the end game for your show? TV? An online Brand?
RM: Political Lunch is definitely a strong online brand and I think it will stay there, though it could add value to the right television network.
KP: What were your biggest challenge while producing the show?
One of the biggest challenges for us has been being misunderstood by the campaigns and the mainstream media. The lines are blurred between roles, so definitions of “blogger” and “citizen journalist” and “reporter” are all very subjective. People sometimes don’t know what to do with us because we are not really bloggers, but neither are we a television crew.
KP: What will happen with your show after the elections?
RM: We have talked with people about a variety of options for Political Lunch, but have not committed to any particular plan yet. We are building other online properties, so it is likely that Political Lunch will be integrated with one of those and offer somewhat broader news content. But if you know somebody who is looking to buy a program, we’re always ready to listen.
KP: and, what is your message for candidates and vloggers?
RM: For candidates: Embrace the medium. This is one of the most effective ways to connect with the people you want to reach.
For vloggers: Don’t hesitate. Turn on the camera and start. Right now.
If you’ve never seen it before, here is an episode from their show:
Sitting on the couch at blip.tv’s offices in Manhattan, chatting with Dina Kaplan, the company’s COO and Mike Hudak, CEO, I realized that one thing that Dina said was the true story behind this small company – that probably their content and distribution is the biggest and most unnoticed threat to TV networks.
Blip.tv is a video distribution and monetization platform. it offers distribution services to its customers, such an embedable player, distribution to main video sites, twitter notifications, and cross posting to blogs. The company also cut sponsorship deals for its customers with brands, as well as using basic advertisement technology to provide CPM/CPC of deals.
Their uniqueness is in their business strategy – focusing on independent producers of online shows:
– Independent producers are in most cases the ones who are not linked to major TV networks, the guys who just go out there with their own money (or, in some cases, investment money) and produce their own shows.
– Shows are not the dog on skateboard videos you see on YouTube, but an episodic content, just like regular TV shows.
Here’s an example of such a show, Political Lunch:
So, what’s the big news?
Well, couple of weeks ago, Mike and Dina showed me one cool thing – their integration with Sony Bravia. Sony Bravia has an Ethernet socket. And what I saw at blip’s offices is their content on a large screen TV with blip’s menu and interface.
Though Internet and TV integration is not a huge news, blip’s move into this area is significant.
Till now, independent creators had to face two challenges:
– The limited user experience web video offers
– How to promote their shows without the huge marketing budgets the networks have.
Now, blip’s player is no longer confined to the limitations of web video viewing experience. If users can just as easily see Political Lunch or The Closer, the competitive landscape is fundamentally different that the traditional separation of Internet video and TV experience. And again – the key here is that the content we are talking about is not the regular UGC low end content, but well produced shows, that are not a part of the TV industry.
In this new deal, blip.tv challenges the TV networks as they are providing new kind of content, from a new kind of creators, but on the same display vehicle – TV. By breaking the walls around web video user experience, and increasing the exposure to independently created shows, blip.tv are on a heads on attack on TV networks. Sure, they don’t have the money the big guys have – TV advertisement models and price range are much more profitable than what blip.tv and other online video communities can get today. However, like every innovation, things might take time, but they are definitely changing the landscape in a fundamental way.
It is yet to be seen if blip.tv will be around 3 years from now. I believe that they will be successful and snatched by one of gorillas in this market.
However their success or failure will not only indicate if they are good business people. It would be a clear sign for things to come in the market niche of independent content creators.
...NewTeeVee Station is your guide to online video, pointing you to hot new memes, following the emerging stars of the web, and just generally indexing this new entertainment medium. Whereas in the past we covered online video shows like Ask a Ninja, Obama Girl andWallstrip from a business perspective, now we’re also reviewing content for content’s sake…
….NTV Station features editorial reviews of online videos written by a team led by Liz Shannon Miller, who comes to us from Variety and the Daily Reel. We eliminate the static and bring to you videos that are actually good — but also the stuff that’s so bad it has everyone talking… When you visit the front page of NTV Station, you’ll see in one glance what’s hot at that very moment. Our editors monitor the online video universe and refresh the site with new videos throughout the day. A special widget developed using the VodPod API allows you to scroll through all of our past video picks….
I am a big fan of sites trying to make some sense of all the videos out there. In a past, I wrote a hotly debated post where I asked when would someone create an online HBO equivalent, and gang all the best video shows to one site. This is a form of content discovery in my opinion – a way to bring the best videos to my computer screen. Would Om answer my prayers?
There were several initiative in this area, one of them was Jeff Pulver’s Network2.tv. While N2 was aiming at being a definitive guide to all episodic video on the web, it seems that Om’s effort is a mix of being IMDB and an editorial driven site, that does some filtering for the audience. What I am missing here is a clear value proposition, or, in other words, what exactly should I expect – the best videos? The hottest videos? All the “good” videos?
Definition of Quality
One of the trickiest issues in the world of online video is the definition of quality. How can the editor in NTV know what’s good for me? Though philosophical in nature, it is a major challenge, that I’d love to hear Om’s opinion about.
Last but not least, user interface is one of the biggest challenges in online video today. Looking at the current interface of most video recommendation sites, one would see the same scroll down page with x amount of videos. This interface works for YouTube, but in my opinion should be improved. NewTeeVee is built as a blog, and as such it is well designed. As a video interface – not so good IMHO:
1. Almost one-third of the screen is dedicated to promotion, ad space, and other money making machines.
2. Viewers need to scroll down in order to see recommended shows.
3. Video player is covering a small amount of the screen – while it is supposed to be the dominant experience
4. Users need to click at least twice to start playing a video
My belief is that online video interfaces should be, well, video interfaces. I’d like to see a site with a dominant video player, where users could navigate and find the best videos for them. This way, the video experience is the dominant one, and not the textual interface.
I hope that Om will be successful in this project – the web certainly needs one!
I haven’t written lately due to professional and personal reasons (good ones, details are coming soon) but I wanted to give you all a heads up about two cool must see videos:
Kathryn Jones from 35, and her great husband Guiesseppe, are doing a new live show called “The Jabbo and Crabbo Show”. It is all about creators (bands, artists, videographers),and how to use the web and technology to distribute your content for free. It is done live, which means you can chat and talk with the host and other viewers, this time on Blogtv‘s platform. Check out the trailer:
Bill Cammack is always bitching around about the low quality of internet videos. As an Emmy winner, he knows what he is talking about, but I challenged him to do something about today’s web video quality.
The result is here: