It’s said that acquisitions are more often value destroying than creating, and this seems to be a case-in-point.
According to TubeMogul, episodes of Wallstrip were seen 100,745 times in the last 30 days. If we assume a fairly generous $25 CPM for the preroll ads, the stock market / pop culture show saw total gross revenue of roughly $2500 last month. Ouch!
For a show that probably costs at least $40K per week to produce, I can understand a decision to suspend production. As Mashable notes, the economics don’t work, but not, as they suggest, because the network TV model doesn’t work on the web. Rather, it’s because web creators may need to act more like networks.
At the time of the acqusition, Wallstrip creator Howard Lindzon said CBS bought the show partly for its “web 2.0″ syndication, which effectively means niche, short-form content distributed with TubeMogul.
Was that bit of genius worth $4 Million? Well, CBS says it will “take the DNA from WallStrip and apply it” to its questionable acquisition of BNET. Still, I would have made a similar recommendation for no more than a million. Plus, the team responsible for that DNA has been charged with the creation of content that shares none of its virtues.
For a while, CBS seemed to be on the cutting edge of a new age of entertainment, but recent developments seem to represent a departure from that strategy as well as an industry-wide recognition that we all went overboard with the idea of niche. Niche video content can still work on the web like never before, but with production costs much, much lower than Wallstrip’s.
To date, the most successful serial web video content has not targeted a specific niche but, rather, has cast a wide net of broad appeal. Comedy fans. Sports fans. Fans of scantily clad women. Michael Eisner once claimed that web content would see bigger audiences than TV, and indeed his web studio Vuguru seems poised to produce big productions for the masses.
This news does offer fodder for cynicism: Wallstrip, and particularly Moblogic, offered some of the strongest work on the web. Hopefully its very talented creators leave boring car commercials for the more interesting work which they’ve already begun.