We’ve noted that the WGA strike would likely boost our fledgling little internet video industry, but that a major shift away from traditional television seems a bit far off. So what are we to make of repeated announcements from accomplished Hollywood writers creating content companies for new media with new funds popping up to finance these ventures?
I think it means more eyeballs, more money, clearer economics and, ultimately, a lean-back experience that mimics TV…in addition to an expansion of the new interactive entertainment experience enabled by sit-up online video. But this ecosystem is just beginning to take form. In the meantime, its great to see that old media converts have embraced some of the most important elements of the new medium.
Two of the most recent internet-TV startups come directly from the forces behind some of the most creative content on old TV. Jackson Bites is the pet project of Doug Liman, director of Swingers and The Bourne Identity and an executive producer of The O.C. Aaron Mendelsohn, writer of the Disney film Air Bud and an active WGA member, is leading the efforts of Strike TV. These not to mention earlier iterations of a similar concept to bring established stars to new media from MyDamnChannel to 60Frames to Blowtorch Entertainment to Funny or Die.
I wholeheartedly support the approach stated by Strike TV: “Strike TV will use a Web video platform that allows for videos up to 40 minutes in length, although most will likely be 5 to 7 minutes long. Shows will be rolled out in slates, with the number of slates dependent on the number of videos that are actually produced. Strike TV will have its own page on the United Hollywood site, basically a TV guide of all the shows. When you click on a specific show, you’ll be taken to that program’s Web page. Each show will create and build its own online community.” auto-play embed.
But that’s not all they need to do. I spend A LOT of time watching internet-TV — and, unfortunately, I’m as often frustrated as I am impressed — so I thought I’d share some wishes for converts to the new medium.
1. Brands, not shows.
A show is just one opportunity for viewsers to experience your characters, to taste the flavor of your brand. Create a meal (show), but be sure to serve up pleanty of appitizers and snacks (shorter videos) and some dinner conversation (interactive elements). Your brands should be immersive experiences. I want to engage with them actively and passively, when I’m on the go, and when I want to veg out on my couch. Figure out ways to offer various experiences to match my various moods. Various disparate content within a catch-all brand just doesn’t cut it.
Prime Example: Arrested Development on MSN
2. Involve audiences.
Your users are your livelihood. Allow them to invest in the process of creation, and they’ll be loyal to your brand. Give them the voice they deserve, and they’ll spend more time with you.
3. Enable easy embeds.
If you’re creating quality work, people will want to share and discuss this work. Make it easy for us. The longer I have to look for embed code, the less likely I am to post your video. Also, nobody likes the
Prime Examples: All Next New Networks Sites
4. Distribute far and wide.
Your private URL should be a special case for your content, with added value features to make it the best place to watch or download that content, but if you don’t distribute your content far and wide — YouTube, TiVo, my cellphone, a DVD — then you’re limiting your exposure and fighting the control consumers have come to expect. Let us view your content when and where we want.
I’ve been waiting for this to happen: Internet-TV is growing up with fresh, old Hollywood talent. Welcome Hollywood, just don’t forget the Internet in Internet-TV. Trends are shifting, and so is the entertainment product. Hollywood converts should take note.
Prime Example: The Patrice O’Neil Show
5. The medium is the message. Use it.
From the Brightcove WhitePaper on successful Internet-TV: “The Web is a unique medium, and as such, it shapes what content works well. To have successful Internet TV content, you need to produce for the medium.”
DVD’s provide experiences far richer than video. The internet has the capability of engaging audiences in infinitely richer and more innovative ways than ever before. Incorporate the flexibility of the new medium into the product itself. Don’t copy the experience of television. Innovate.