Category Archives: New Media

The golden age of web video is coming!

The golden age of web video is coming.

If TV history is any indication, a “Golden Age” comes next for original Web video. In the ’50s and ’60s, well-written long-form live TV dramas as well as comedy hits like “I Love Lucy” changed the way America consumed media (and helped end movie studios’ media domination). Eventually, content creators will develop long-form programming using interactivity to tell stories in new ways. Maybe we’ll see fewer 3-minute one-joke videos and more 12-minute masterpieces. And of course, no one will complain if a same-day Old Spice ad pops up to cover the costs.

Viral Video bad for producers and advertisers

Viral Video bad for producers and advetisers

Jim Louderback is one smart guy. Revison3 is doing well, building strong audiences and yes, getting enough advertising support to make a business. In this article he debunks the idea that going for “viral video success” is the wrong strategy for producers:

Let’s start with producers and show creators. Media is all about building habits. Successful producers bind an audience to their creation, building an insatiable hunger for the next installment, next episode, next post. But when you focus on viral success, you throw that focus on repeatability out the window. By its nature, viral videos are designed to surprise, titillate and entertain. They are, by nature, unique…

They do nothing for the producer long term (with some exceptions) but worse they’re not good for advertisers either:

Viral videos may be bad for creators and publishers, but they are actually worse for advertisers. Your typical viral video gets passed around, yes, and drives a lot of views. And yes, those can translate into impressions for an advertiser. But as we’ve seen at Revision3, advertising associated with viral videos has only a small fraction of the impact of an ad that runs inside, or alongside, an episodic video program. We’ve seen tremendous results from putting brands next to our long-running episodic programs — those with real communities, high comment-to-view ratios and predictable views. We’ve seen terrible results by associating the same brands and services with the few viral-focused shows we’ve tried out over the last five years. And if you try creating those viral-focused videos yourself, you are in for a real surprise. It is overwhelmingly likely that you’ll end up with closer to a thousand views than a million.

Concentrate on building an audience? What a concept.

New Numbers Reveal: Cord Cutting is Real. Or not.

New Numbers Reveal: Cord Cutting Is Real

I’d love to believe that “cord cutting” – dropping a cable subscription in favor of web delivered video – is growing and that Internet distribution is a raging success. Except it’s not. At least not yet.GigOm quote some statistics – and for sure this is the biggest quarterly drop that cable subscription numbers have experienced  – but the reality is:

… much of those losses seem to be attributable to customers who subscribed to pay TV early last year due to the broadcast digital transition. Now these customers see the prices for their introductory packages going up, and quite a few of them have decided not to stick around.

Another GigOm post says that “45% of TV viewers get their shows online,” which makes a great headline, until you read the body of the article:

Almost half of all consumers watch TV content online every week, according to a new study released by the Ericsson ConsumerLab today

Watching a single video on YouTube would qualify you in that 45% so there’s no news there, particulalry when the same article presents:

However, linear TV content still reigns supreme: 93 percent watch plain old television every week.

So, watching online video doesn’t diminish the watching of conventional Television.

There are definitely “cord cutters” out there – ourselves among them – who have dropped cable or satellite (and over the air).

As an aside I couldn’t help noting the end of the article:

Apple, on the other hand, should be encouraged by Ericsson’s findings. 37 percent of consumers are very interested in a touch-screen tablet as a remote control for their TV.

That’s what I said months ago. It’s the logical solution to the problem.

If you want to give it a go (cord cutting) Salone has an article today Cut the cord: A guide to free TV but that article’s point one is to “adjust your expectations”! Right.

The most sane commentary on the subject in the last day or so comes from Silicon Alley Insider’s Judge The Success Of Web Video By Real Business, Not Hype Like “Cord Cutting.” I’m big on “real business results” since that’s what ultimately we judge on. The always sensible Dan Rayburn (president of concludes a very long and excellent counterpoint to the unreasonable optimism from “online video” proponents with:

Notice almost no analyst talks about what’s taking place today? It’s almost always about the future and three or four years away yet there are plenty of opportunities right now. This industry survived the crash in 2000 because expectations were re-set and consumers, vendors, VCs and others all came back down to reality of what was real and what was hype. Many of us don’t want to see the industry go through another correction like that, even though in the long run, it was the best thing that could of happened at the time. It will sound odd to some, but for those in the industry at that time, they will most certainly agree with me that our industry needed to go through that in order to survive and be where it is today.

Don’t let the hype in this industry become the metrics for how we judge true success in the market.

Breaking Bad to Fill Year-Long gap with webisodes

Breaking Bad to Fill Year-Long Hiatus With Short Webisodes

A great way to keep interest up between seasons of major shows.

These episodes will be available some time after January, when the show will begin production on the new season. “I, for one, am eager to make these little interstitials important,” the show’s star, Bryan Cranston, told Deadline. “I don’t want them to be simply filler or recap, but something that actually moves the storyline forward. If we’re going to do it, it ought to be a real part of the larger show.”

YouTube Tries To Boost Production Budgets

YouTube Tries To Boost Production Budgets With $5 Million Grant Program

As they say:

The goal of YouTube Partner Grants is to act as a catalyst by infusing additional funds into the production budgets of a small group of YouTube partners who are at the forefront of innovation. Funds from YouTube Partner Grants will serve as an advance against the partner’s future YouTube revenue share. This additional funding can allow partners to invest in better cameras, achieve higher production quality, expand their marketing efforts, expand their staff, or just hire more talent. Anything that will help them evolve their art, business, and ultimately the entire creator community. We look at this as an investment that will bring an even richer body of content for our users and advertisers and raise the creative bar for online video.

So it’s more of an advance on advertising revenue than a grant, but still, it should help that “select group” to improve their product.

The Lack Of A ‘Golden Ticket’ doesn’t mean you give up and go home.

The Lack Of A ‘Golden Ticket’ Business Model Doesn’t Mean You Give Up And Go Home

Kara Swisher goes to meet with Hollywood Executives who are all looking for a Golden Ticket (Willy Wonka reference) so that they can charge the same monopoly rents they did when they (used to be) a monopoly.

Michael Masnick deconstructs Swisher’s reporting and parses it for us. This is a worthwhile read, even if a little long.

From music to movies to television, the biggest minds here still sound perplexed as to what will finally be the golden ticket to carry them through to the inevitable next era of digital distribution.

That single sentence basically describes the problem. These guys are sitting back and waiting for someone to hand them a golden ticket that replicates the old ways of doing things. That’s not how it works. No one gave the buggy whip makers a golden ticket that let them keep their old lines of business going.

The unnamed executives even ask why the customer always gets to be right. Yep, that’s how far removed they are from any sense of commercial reality. The customer is always right because there’s always someone else that will meet the customer need if you don’t. (Where is my “any program, any time, any device for a fair price” service again? There’s a customer demand for it but the old guard won’t deliver.)

Final words:

The role of the disruptor is not to make life easy for the disrupted. Swisher and these execs seem to be confusing the role of certain folks in the legacy industry with the overall entertainment industry itself. As noted, the entertainment industry is thriving. More movies, music and books are being created. More money is being spent. It’s just that it’s going to different players. There’s no reason to “figure out a way to keep talent from being dragged into the future.” The opportunities and wide open path are there. The problem isn’t that tech leaders haven’t made it easy for them. They have. It’s that these guys are so myopically focused on the way they used to make money they don’t realize that the new opportunities are already there and have been embraced widely by others.

How do you get Disney to fund your next production?

It seems like an odd idea at first: could you fund a production – film or ongoing series – using iAds? After all, Apple have lined up $60 million in ad spend for the second half of 2010 and that would fund a lot of independent production! But how would it work?

First off iAds go in Apps for the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad – or they will from early next month – and are an integral part of iOS 4. Any developer can add ads to their App simply and 60% of the revenue from ads goes to the App developer (or owner). That’s $36 million that’s going to be paid out to someone, why not your independent project?

I’ve long thought that the future of programming was Apps. An App, like a website, gives a single place for everything about your project: blog, previews, special content, upcoming events, merchandising etc. The advantage of not only having a website, but wrapping it an App is that the App will be a better fan experience, and it’s easy to add in-App purchasing of digital goods.

So, create an App for your project. This App will have:

  • An area where you can read the production blog;
  • Forums and chat around your project;
  • The Twitter feed from your project;
  • Connection into your Facebook presence;
  • Previews of scenes or trailers of movies;
  • The full project, with a little in-App purchasing (or not).
  • Calendar for screenings, parties and other events around your project, including signup (filtered for just the geography of the fan if they want, thanks to GPS on most of the devices)

Having everything to do with your project in a mobile app on iPhone or iPad makes it much easier for your fans, friends and followers to stay involved and participate. Involvement will improve. (Connecting with Fans and giving them a reason to buy is a basic tenet of independent production in the digital era.) Plus fans will likely be clicking on some of those ads if they’re well targeted, bringing revenue to the project.

Plus, there a minor security advantage. There’s no download function in Mobile Safari and Apps can’t download very much. Plus there’s no way to actually get anything downloaded within an App out of the App to a computer. That means your finished, high quality version could be viewed in the iDevices without much risk of it being distributed without authorization. (Recognizing though, that it will get distributed unless you project just plain sucks!)

Who’s going to be the first to give it a try?

The New Now of Television: Surviving the changing business of Television

The New Now of Television: Surviving the changing business of Television. LA for Television Academy members, starring me! 🙂

This is a custom version of my “How to grow your production or post-production business in any type of economic conditions”, which has been presented in New York in March, and will also be in San Francisco on June 19. (Along with an afternoon session on “Growing and Monetizing and audience for your independent production”.

Your personal brand defines how people perceive you: what work they’ll consider you for, what you get offered. You’ll learn how to manage your brand – and the stories you tell around your personal brand. You’ll learn how to build an internet presence by understanding how marketing, PR and social conversations have changed the business promotion and networking landscape. We will conclude with the top tips on maximizing your business’ visibility on the Internet.


  • What are the four major trends in production?

    Having just got back from an North East trip – New York, Boston and Meriden/North Haven CT – I’ve had a good opportunity to think and observe trends outside my own environment. I see four major trends happening across production and, despite the publicity and inevitable NAB push, I don’t think 3D stereoscopy is among them (at least not yet).

    Stereoscopy is indeed a trend in feature film production with an impressive percentage of last year’s box office attributable to 3D movies, but it will be a long time before it’s more than a niche for non-feature production. In fact the supply of 3D content vs the number of theaters equipped to display, is probably going to limit 3D distribution to the major studios and their tentpole releases.

    That said, this year’s NAB is likely to be full of 3D capable rigs, cameras and workflows. For what display?  Until the viewing end is more established production in 3D won’t be that important.

    Right now the trends I’m observing are: more multicamera production; extensive use of green screen even for “normal” shots; 3D sets, objects and even characters; and a definite trend toward larger sensor cameras (both DSLR and RED).

    Multicamera Production

    The appeal is simple: acquire two angles on any “good” take. Of course reality television takes this to almost-ridiculous levels with up to 68+ hours recorded for every day of the show’s shoot. On more reasonable shows, Friday Night Lights shoots multicamera in real world locations for a very efficient production schedule.

    While it no doubt saves production time, and therefore cost, it can limit shot availability (as one camera ‘sees’ another) or more bland lighting (to make sure each camera angle is well lit). Multicamera studio shoots – the staple of the sitcom – tend to be lit very flat, but Friday Night Lights doesn’t suffer for the multicamera acquisition.

    All major editing software packages support multicamera editing. We’ve also seen an increase in requests for multicamera support in our double-system synchronizing tool Sync-N-Link.

    Part of the reason that multicamera acquisition is becoming more practical is that the cost of buying or renting camera equipment has dropped dramatically, so that three cameras on a shoot are not necessarily a budget buster.

    Green Screen (Virtual sets)

    If you haven’t already seen Stargate Studio’s Virtual Back Lot reel, do it now. Before seeing it I had the sense that there was a lot more green screen used out there, but I had no idea that shows I’d watched and enjoyed employed green screen. The Times Square shot from Hereos, for example, did not feel at all composited. When simple street scenes are being shot green screen – things that could easily be shot in the real world – then you know it has to be for budgetary reasons.

    Green screen (and blue screen for film) technologies are well proven. There are good and inexpensive tools that fit within common workflows to build the green screen composite. In other words, the barriers to entry are simply the skill of the Director of Photography on the shoot, and that of the editors/compositors in post.

    When 70% of a show, like Sanctuary uses virtual sets, the necessity for anything beyond a good screen screen studio, with a good lighting kit and some smarts seems less important.

    3D sets and enhancements

    The third major trend goes hand-in-hand with the use of Virtual Sets: sets that are created in the mind of a designer and rendered “real” with 3D software. There are literally hundreds of thousands of object models available for sale (or free) online. You can hardly read a production story now that does’t feature 3D set or character extensions.

    I should probably add motion tracking as another technology coming into its own, because it’s an essential part of the incorporation of actors into 3D sets, or the enhancement of character with 3D character extensions.

    Larger Sensors

    Fairly obvious to all, I would think, but the trend toward larger sensors includes the DSLR trend as well as RED Digital Cinema and the new Arri Alexxa. Wherever you look the trend is toward larger sensors with their sensitivity improvements, greater control of depth of field and drop-dead gorgeous pictures. Among other uses they make perfect plates for backgrounds in green screen work!

    All four (plus motion tracking) trends contribute to reducing production cost, making more shows viable with ever fragmenting audiences.