Stop this crap. Is that really what we’ve become in the online video world, a vapid me-too recycling of web show concepts that are so bad my faith in the medium is in question? Stop this crap, seriously. It’s to the point I felt compelled to dust off Barrett Garese’s 2000 Words on Derivative Bullshit rant just so I don’t break something.
A few months ago, at some point, every digital exec in this town got the same idea at the same moment of delusional laziness and thunk up the idea of a web show all about trending topics in social media. “Everyone on Twitter is talking about Pirates today, so let’s talk about Pirates!” We’ll hire some attractive girl who can read a hashtag and say the really big words like Abbottabad.
A flurry of pitches came through our inbox this week, like this one from Dailymotion, who greenlit a 60-second trending topics gagfest called Buzz 60.
“DAILYMOTION LAUNCHES ONLINE NEWS SHOW REPORTING UP-TO-THE-MINUTE TRENDING TOPICS IN 60-SECONDS”
The first of its kind, ‘Buzz 60’ will air three times daily offering viewers a quick 60-second download of the day’s trending topics from around the world and on the web, delivered with quirky and fun commentary. Unlike other news web series, ‘Buzz 60’ will be a fast breaking, rapid fire format with a turnaround time of roughly 2 hours.
Then there’s Yahoo’s latest, Trending Now. “YAHOO! LAUNCHES ‘TRENDING NOW’ – A DAILY VIDEO NEWS PROGRAM OFFERING A FAST-PACED GLIMPSE AT THE MOST BUZZED ABOUT NEWS OF THE DAY”
Worse yet, they somehow coerced Dodge into sponsoring this nonsense. And that’s where it really irks those of us who try to preach that online video is a viable premium medium on its own, not third rate behind TV and Film. And they are out there selling video ad impressions based on an 88-million-user front page placement on Yahoo of mediocre filler video. One recent headline they ran: “Botox Hoax, Kirsten Dunst’s Face Goes Viral, and a Pop Star’s B-Day”
Hosted by Adriana Diaz of Channel One, Trending Now is a 2-3 minute newscast combining the day’s news headlines with Yahoo! Search data and social media trends, offering a fast-paced glimpse into the top news and buzziest stories of the day. The program will feature topics based on the hottest search trends, most-shared stories on Facebook, and trending topics on Twitter and other social platforms.
A bright spot in this—dare I say—trend, is last week’s official launch of What’s Trending, CBS News’ horse in this race, and today came the second weekly live ep of the show. Despite falling for some of the same trending topic traps like an over-attention to the weekend box office and Lady Gaga, there’s some real meat on this bone.
Host and co-creator Shira Lazar actually fills her colorful couch set with some real thinkers, drumming up some conversation around these topics, like Chris Hardwick (@nerdist), George Takei, and Devon Hicks (the guy who started the #itsokaytosaygay hashtag) pondering “Is it okay to say Gay?” That is actual reporting and actual value.
We at Tubefilter are generally evangelists for the evolution of online video, but this past week has put a serious dent in our optimism for the future of originality online. Dare we even go as far as to call a bubble in web shows. The tail-chasing of trending topics is only a race to the bottom, won by clever SEO, salacious headlines and mindless rehashing of things that at one point may have been original.
Somebody draw up something original and shoot it our way, we’re hungry for better.