John McCann

Archive for the ‘Vlogging’ Category

Participate and sell

In Early Predictions, Television, Video, Vlogging on March 19, 2006 at 4:07 pm

The lead story in the Business section of Monday’s New York Times blasts an invitation to us to get off our butts and create something of value that the big media companies can buy:


The article seems to be driven by NBC Universal’s purchase, for $600 million, of iVillage, an Internet company that appeals to women. According to the author of the article, this interest by media companies is driven by their recognition of the need to reach niche audiences. His take is that this purchase illustrates

“the continuing interest by media companies in adding new Web sites to reach and connect with consumers, hobbyists, parents, investors, car buyers, Scrabble players and virtually every other niche audience.”

This reminds me of a lecture I delivered in the mid-1990s to a classroom full of MBA students. I suggested that they might be able to make more money traveling around the world with a video camera recording tennis matches, volleyball games and chess tournaments. I was not at all surprised that the students scoffed at the idea with statements such as “Who would want to watch THAT?” Perhaps recent events indicate that the large media companies think that at least some people might want to watch just about anything.

Well, there are now about 1 billion people on the Internet, and there will likely be 2 billion in a few years. And there are already 2 billion mobile phone users, headed towards 4 billion. An audience whose size is a very small fraction of those people can be very valuable if it is an audience that some advertiser finds valuable.


Increased focus on amateurs

In Television, Video, Vlogging on March 2, 2006 at 7:38 pm

A New York Times article, “Yahoo Says It Is Backing Away From TV-Style Web Shows,” reports that Yahoo is moving away from a broadcast, mass culture direction it had recently adopted into a Participation Age model.

After proclaiming grand plans to bring elaborately produced sitcoms, talk shows and other television-style programs to the Internet, the head [Lloyd Braun] of Yahoo’s Media Group said yesterday that he was sharply scaling back those efforts. He said the group would shift its focus to content acquired from other media companies or submitted by users.

Braun said that he did not fully understand the Internet model when he joined Yahoo after a successful career creating blockbuster TV shows such as Lost. One analyst succinctly summarizes the key issue that Braun had likely missed.

Jordan Rohan, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, said Yahoo’s shift in strategy was sound. “Embracing things like blogs and sharing of content between individuals” is at least as important as “coming up with the next mega-online event,” he said. “The Internet is such a niche content environment that the broadcast model does not really work.”

West Wing is in its last season because its 8 million viewers are not sufficient for the television broadcast model. Rocketboom, a niche content video news show that is distributed over the Internet, is considered a big success with its relatively tiny viewer base. See my earlier post.

The Rocketboom folks recently sold ad time on its show via an eBay auction.

For the highest bidder, we will create five original, fifteen second (minimum) – one minute (maximum) post-roll commercials that will span five days of programming, Monday-Friday, March 6 through March 10, 2006. Each day that week a different commercial that we create for your company will be played at the conclusion of the Rocketboom episode. Rocketboom reaches a minimum of 130,000 people per day and each day’s video, over the course of several days, receives over 200,000 complete views. Thus, the advertisement reach for this auction is currently a minimum of one million views. The five unique advertisements, along with hyperlinks to your website, will also become a part of our archived web pages. They will remain freely available, searchable, index-able, re-distributable, and on demand. Additionally, direct links to each commercial will be available for at least one year.

The winner paid $40,000 for this advertising venture. Yahoo seems to be turning its attention to this market and away from applying the mass media model to the Internet. Now that’s a good sign for the Participation Age because it provides a little more light on this Age as it goes through its Dawn.

Vlogging software

In Technology, Television, Vlogging on February 16, 2006 at 1:42 pm

I used to teach a module that I called Revolution in Television Entertainment that focused on a new product named the Video Toaster, a hardware product that purported to put a broadcast studio into your PC. In researching the product, I found the September, 1997 column by Jerry Pournelle in Byte magazine that focused on the Video Toaster:

With the $5000 Trinity box and a decent Pentium system, you can have your own TV studio and produce professional-quality video. Add the new digital camcorders and writable digital videodiscs (DVD), and the result will be a spate of innovative TV documentaries, dramas, and odd-ball entertainments. Most of those will be silly or useless, but not all. I expect some real revolutions in television entertainment over the next few years, and the cost to get in on it is about the same as a year’s tuition at a major university. Graphic art is one of the fastest-growing fronts in the computer revolution. Affordable digital camcorders, Play’s Trinity, and DVDs form one synergy.”

I used to visit a Trinity dealer in Chapel Hill, NC and was always blown away by the demos. The company even started a magazine about the Trinity and I still have the first, and alas only, issue. The product got a lot of positive press and won awards at national conferences but the box was delayed and then seemed to be plagued by bugs. Eventually the firm’s assets were sold and the Video Trinity disappeared.

Today I was surprised to read a post in Terri Heaton’s blog about a new piece of software that seems to be based upon the original Trinity.

“The brilliant minds at Serious Magic have officially released Vlog It, a $49 piece of software that’ll turn your computer into a TV station. These are the same folks who brought us the higher end “Visual Communicator” and that staple yesterday, Video Toaster (remember Garth’s T-shirt from “Wayne’s World?”). I predict this simple product will revolutionize Vlogs by making it easy for anybody to create real time production for television. Go to the Vlog It site and play the demo. You’ll be absolutely amazed. I am, and I’m an old TV guy!”

My mind reels with thoughts about the videos that people can make with this product, if it’s even close to the Video Toaster in capabilities and performance. The dawn just got a little brighter. I would love to see dozens and dozens of Rocketboom-inspired vlogs.