NYTVF 2009

Fellow Tubefilter contributor Gennefer Snowfield (@Gennefer) excitedly tweeted on the closing night of the NYTVF, “+1 for web series!,”  in response to the Jeremy Readleaf’s pilot, Odd Jobs taking the coveted FOX/15 Gigs development deal. Really though, this accomplishment is a footnote in a festival that has already gone to the web. The floodgates have opened, and Web Television is firmly in place as the stop for independent television.

Of the pilots presented, whether or not they had expressly identified themselves as a web series, well over half have already been distributed on the web, or have plans for distributing over the web in the near future (many looking for distro deals with major content networks). Ironically coming off of Industry Day, where panelist Rick Rosen explained “we just can’t make money off the web!”, the epoch of all this Web TV fever was the jam packed Digital Day. A number of companies and content creators discussed all of the ways in which they have been successful and made money off the web. In fact, at one point, after seeing both MSN and EQAL pitch products, I thought to myself, “have we gone too commercial?”

Panel Recap: Easy to Assemble, A Case Study The Easy To Assemble panel at the start of the day was much more content creator friendly. Illeana Douglas opened the day with some encouraging lines, “A year ago people came to me and were like ‘what are you doing’ … We’re at the tipping point where people are saying ‘Now, I get it.'” Douglas dominated the conversation over her panel-mates which included producer, Dominik Rausch, Rob Barnett of My Damn Channel, moderated by Wilson Cleveland of CJP Digital Media. Douglas explained her move from traditional television as a move of necessity, “They told me as a woman over 40 we don’t want to see you on TV.” Douglas also stressed the importance of loving a brand you are working with, hopefully the brand will then give the creative freedom needed to create a good show. Of course, it helps to have a forward thinking brand to work with, Douglas explained, “The most important thing IKEA cared about was showcasing their good design and their amazing stores.” She even made some interesting predictions about the future of Web Television, “Advertisers and Brands will be the networks of the future,” continuing on “Corporate marketers need to think like producers, and producers need to start thinking more like corporate marketers.” If all brands were as open as IKEA, then I think she would be right on the money. The ultimate question is does it drive sales?

Panel Recap: MSN Joe Michaels and Niko Chauls presented MSN as a vehicle for making web series successful by offering key learning’s they discovered. Most of these were very straightforward maxims (presented in PowerPoint Form talk about synergy!) such as your web series “must be promotable” and “big budgets don’t mean big success.” One thing that amazed me, though, was how open they are to taking pitches. Feel free to email them (original@microsoft.com), but make sure to check out the site and see where you might fit in one of their verticals. The onth thing they did stress was not to expect too much in terms of a budget. They say they’re really only willing to shell out somewhere in the realm of $3,000 per episode.

Panel Recap: EQAL EQAL co-founders, Miles Beckett and Greg Goodfried, creators of the lonelygirl15 universe, on the other hand, discussed their use of communities to grow audiences and ultimately monetize. Again, this is mostly about using advertising, but Goodfried made a good point about a new market, “People are spending tons of money on micropayments [in Facebook, Zynga, etc].” They also made an impassioned pitch for their new publishing platform Umbrella. Umbrella is a social publishing platform, “think Tumblr meets Ning,” explained Beckett, “We’ll be actively scouring sites to partner up with … we’ll deal with the advertisers.” Oddly enough, hosting will be outsourced though, “we’ll be working with other media providers, Blip.tv, YouTube, [etc.] … we don’t do any hosting on our site.” Price points have not been set, but Beckett mentioned “possibly around $20-$30 per month maybe $50 per month depending on the extra features.”

Adam WrightAdam F. Wright is an Analyst for Tubefilter Research. He recently graduated from Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University with a master’s degree in entertainment industry management. During his time there, he worked at NBC Universal’s Digital Distribution department and with Myspace Video’s Content Development team. In his spare time, Adam is a freelance marketing and distribution consultant in the online video and music industries. He is on special assignment this week in New York.

Top photo courtesy NYTVF.

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