Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Video Insider: Google Addresses Video Concerns

Google Addresses Video Concerns

OVER THE LAST FEW WEEKS, Mark Cuban has blogged about Google, YouTube, and Hulu. These blogs have included the following, and I paraphrase the concepts: 1. That if you upload your content to YouTube, be forever prepared for Google to own your content, and every right associated with that content. 2. That YouTube, with its amalgam and mishmash of content, has no business model that is sustainable. 3. That "Hulu is kicking YouTube's Ass."

Now, I watch videos on YouTube and I watch videos on Hulu. Frankly, I think they are both great for what they are. And to me that precise combination of words, "what they are" is a key in being able to enjoy them. Everyone has a notion of what YouTube is all about and the content there is decidedly not just about the often-cited-now-clichéd cat flushing a toilet. I know just as many people who watch excerpts of shows, concerts, cooking tips -- you name it -- and are thrilled to find those things.

And Hulu is wonderful. The user interface is streamlined, intelligent, and intuitive. And the content diversity continues to grow with an interesting mixture of old, nostalgic, and new.

But Google's recent announcement that "Family Guy" creator Seth McFarlane will be creating exclusive content for Google and served up as part of its AdSense system demands attention. First, the content is uniquely tied to ad revenue through pre-rolls, post-rolls, or overlays. Second, the content is from a proven creator of programming. Third, there is a significant budget associated with creating the content for "Seth McFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy," a collection of 50 two-minute episodes. In several different reports, that production cost is purported to be in the multimillions. Fourth, the ever elusive "what's the business model?" question appears to be answered in that when a viewer clicks on the video clip, that advertiser pays a fee. Fifth, the general viewer make-up for this content is better known than is usually the case. This makes it possible to push the content to where the viewer is addressed, instead of creating a presence to which interested viewers must proactively navigate.

The notion (and the allure) that there may be a way to offer one piece of content that is associated with X number of advertisers for those two minutes is enormous. What does a time-slice mean when you can do that? Instead of being able to only sell, say three spots, if the content is syndicated to 50 sites, that's 150 slices for ad placement (pre-roll, overlay, and post-roll). And who wouldn't be tempted to place that bet?

Signiant recently participated in an iHollywood webinar that was entitled, "The Truth about Digital: Fact vs. Fiction in the Digital Supply Chain." One of the questions I received had to do with how content will be delivered based on user preferences and user input, and how the content would potentially be reformatted on-the-fly according to a viewer's "input or settings." Much of this will need to be accomplished by what I like to refer to as "automated recombinant digital media workflows" (how do you like that?), that have to be modeled, created, and put in place very quickly.

I think that the "where's the business model," "the content looks crappy," "you won't own the content" musings are rapidly turning into very well-thought-out approaches -- and those notions are going to become meaningless in very short order.

Tom Ohanian is Chief Strategy Officer, Signiant Corp. Tom was on the founding team of Avid Technology and is an Academy Award® and two-time Emmy® recipient

Video Insider for Wednesday, July 16, 2008:

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