This whole video on the internet thing is going to be big. I can feel it.
Call it a hunch.
But is it really that surprising that the kings of broadcast video, even the ones with progressive approaches to broadband audiences, don’t get the full importance of online video? I don’t think so.
It struck me during the panel discussion that the TV networks – despite their recent initiatives – still do not live in a long tail world. They’re largely focused on reaching mass audiences. Shaw’s comments indicates that the nets are not seeing an opportunity to augment their huge reach by using the Web to help marketers build a deeper level of engagement with select slices of micro audiences who tell the larger group what to watch.
But Steve’s point, and the point of others like Jackie Huba, is that if content producers/providers don’t get it, marketers do:
Nike, Warner Bros., MTV2 and Dimension Films are regularly seeding YouTube with commercial clips.
So now we have a flipping of the pyramid, a reversal of the food chain. Advertising is now (and has always been in some sense) content.
The internet and broadband video disambiguates the linear, singular necessity of broadcast television advertising. You can just throw up a viral video site and market directly to consumers.
My network is doing just that with our TBS Department of Humor Analysis. Sure, we’re augmented by time on our air and some additional paid advertising (SEM, Theatre ads), but the website is the primary messaging vehicle and sharing of video – send to a friend, email, viral video sites, whatever – is our “reach”.
What do both of these facts mean, though? The internet, with it’s infinite choice, means everyone in the chain can add or extract value at any point in the equation. It also means that the potential to become a “hit” and reach customers/viewers/users you normally couldn’t or wouldn’t as well as everyone with pop culture antennae (think “Numa Numa”) is incredibly.
Does that mean every piece of viral video or every piece of micro-content (like an episode of Rocketboom or Tiki Bar TV or even a segment of Robot Chicken or Friends) will be consumed by everybody. Of course not. But the people who want and need that content can find it, share it, remix it, evangelize it and get other like-minded folks in on the action.
I look at it this way: preaching to the choir by making your best stuff available to the people who already like you encourages your fans to tell their friends. It’s the entire concept behind bands and television shows and movies going to MySpace and making some of their content available for free.
The wisdom of the crowd, the net effects of all the folks who do see what you have to offer is a far better indicator of success than any meeting of the same minds who thought up the last big hit (and the three flops that followed).
Plus, online video is the new dot-com. Sure, there might be a bubble, but there is also tremendous potential. For any established entertainment player to poo-poo the future is just the same old “age surpressing youth” act that always happens in media. People increasingly want their media organized, portable and on-demand and the internet is the opportunity to entertain them in places they couldn’t before and connect people to products and services in a way that was previously impossible.
No format is dying here, but business models and established formats might.
Take a deep breath, plan for the future and accept the unknown.
You never know where the next Seinfeld or Garl Brolsma might be.
And you also never know when someone might find out about your great new widget and they need to tell the world.
So please, put the damn video online and walk away. The more you send it out, the more it comes back to you. Honest.