So far this year, we’ve focused a lot of attention on the YouTube platform—from our CES Panel Secrets of YouTube Superstars Revealed, to You’re a YouTube Partner—Now What?, and The Digitiour Debriefed—and we figured now it was time to see what other ways online video creators are reaching and building audiences, and how they’re optimizing revenue.
We pulled together a diverse panel of online video experts—Jason Calacanis, angel investor and CEO of Mahalo and This Week In; Dan Weinstein, Partner at the Collective Digital Studio (who manages the creators behind iJustine, Fred, and The Annoying Orange); Barrett Garese, Director of Content Partnerships at Blip.tv; Wilson Cleveland, Founder of CJP Digital Media, and Dane Boedigheimer, creator of YouTube phenomenon The Annoying Orange—and set out to discover whether YouTube is the be-all-end-all in online video, or rather an important component in a more complete online video business strategy.
Our panelists, from left to right: Jason Calacanis, Dan Weinstein, Wilson Cleveland, Dane Boedigheimer, Barrett Garese
It turned out to be popular topic—tickets sold out days before the event, and Stickam reported over 50,000 viewers tuned into the live stream. The panel got quite heated at points (you’ll have to see the video of the live stream below to find out more).
Weinstein, partner at the Collective Digital Studio, which manages YouTube superstars, kicked off the panel with insight into a holistic online video strategy. “The greatest asset you have is your audience and your ability to communicate with them directly and mobilize them when you need to in order to leverage them for more opportunity,” he remarked. “A content creator nowadays has to be equal parts content creator and equal parts marketer, and has to understand how to reach their audience and more importantly how to engage their audience.”
The key to becoming a successful online content creator, Weinstein stated, is about “figuring out a way to make all these different and sometimes disparate platforms communicate with one another in a holistic marketing campaign, tying it all into YouTube—it is extraordinarily important in terms of building audience.”
Boedigheimer, who is one of the top video producers on YouTube, explained that his first video of The Annoying Orange wan’t meant to be a series. “I had been doing talking food videos for a while,” he commented. But the audience responded and each video started getting millions and millions of views (note: daneboe and realannoyingorange have over 1.25 billion combined upload views) he hooked up with The Collective to help him secure branding deals, launch a merchandising campaign, develop a tv show, and create his own *highly addictive* video game, Kitchen Carnage. Boedigheimer cautioned that as additional opportunities come it’s important to ”always make sure to keep a focus on YouTube,” echoing Weinstein’s comment that YouTube is “where most of the eyeballs are—not to be understated.”
“Video on the internet is YouTube,” stated Calacanis, which may have been the last moment in which all the panelists were in agreement. “But what’s going to happen in the future is YouTube and Google have realized they’ve paid a couple billion dollars for this asset, and as great as talking fruit and squeaky-voiced teenagers are, it’s not going to pay the bills.” As a result, Calacanis predicted, “they are going to redesign YouTube over the next two years into a more channel structure. So when you go there it won’t be just about who has the largest subscriber base —the should and will still respect those creators and give them their audience—but they are going to blend it to more of a television-like experience.”
Calacanis, a notorious prognosticator, painted a picture of a near future with internet enabled televisions that are connected to your wireless network, not your cable box, where “when you turn it on you see BBC, Netflix, YouTube. You’ll see YouTube’s 2.0 interface, on television sets and iPads.”
With its relationships with consumer electronics manufacturers, Blip.tv is bridging the gap by providing distribution options to content creators who want more control over their viewers’ experiences. In addition to publishing to YouTube, Blip also syndicates to TiVo, Roku, and iTunes.
“The way that we approach content at Blip is always additive,” Garese said. “We never want to cannibalize even a single view from YouTube. But from any business standpoint, having all of your eggs in one basket is never a good idea.” Indeed, Weinstein and the Collective Digital Studio recently inked a distribution deal with Blip.tv, taking advantage of newer audiences, a more controlled viewer experience, and higher CPM on video views.
Cleveland, whose studio produces brand-funded (but not branded) online series, approaches content creation from a different perspective since his shows aren’t dependent on revenue share. “We produce web shows for brands, as story telling vehicles,” Cleveland remarked. This model allows Cleveland the opportunity to explore more dramatic-long form “television-style” programming to which Calacanis was referring in his vision of future online video programming and consumption.
For Cleveland, who gets paid by the brand to produce and market the show, any additional revenue from distribution—which may include YouTube—is split between his company CJP Digital Media and the underwriting brand. Or as Calacnis put it, “there are ways to not be YouTube’s bitch.”
Please watch the video of the Stickam live stream to get the rest of the download, included the heated Q&A session. Thanks to all who made it out, and a special thanks to our sponsor SideReel and community sponsors AlphaBird, Blip.tv, and SAG New Media.