Timely post on NTV that goes back to the essential question for web video: what is a view?
This time, the videos in question are part of a new web series, Imaginary Bitches, starring All My Children actress Eden Reigel:
“Pointing to the inbound links on each IB vid on YouTube, our tipster noted the high number of views coming from suspicious MySpace profiles. For example, Episode 1 links include 4,463 views from Pam/Jenna (a fake Office profile). Episode 7 links include 18,938 views from Leona Lewis (a UK pop artist). There are several more examples, with each MySpace profile showing the video in the comments field, never embedded by the actual profile owner. Sometimes the videos appear in comments far removed from the profile’s front page.
Andrew Miller, the series creator and writer, denies any wrongdoing.”
Whether or not someone is pumping up the numbers is less of an issue than whether or not one can confirm or deny the validity of a view at all. Until someone figures this out web video will continue to struggle to find ways to cashify.
I’ve been having lots of discussions with folks lately about the state of web video. Most of what I hear is in the realm of either, “I’ve never heard of a single web series you just mentioned…who watches this?” to, “I tried watching some of them but they stink!.”
These comments reveal two great truths about web video right now.
The first is that simply putting something online is not enough to get it noticed, even if it’s good. This is especially true when it comes to episodic content. Think about it. If you worked for NBC and we’re going to put a new show on the air you can bet there is an elaborate and expensive advertising campaign in place to promote the new show. Otherwise, nobody will tune in. This is equally true, if not moreso, online. You need to have some idea of how you will promote your work BEFORE you release it.
The second issue, that so much of the work is not all that good, isn’t entirely fair. There is some good stuff out there (check out The Guild or Drawn By Pain for proof) but the hard truth is a lot of it does suck and one reason is exemplified by this quote from a recent post on NewTeeVee:
“Cracked hires most of the work out to different comedy troupes. Typical video budgets are in the hundreds of dollars, are done for a flat-rate fee with no rev share for creators, and Cracked owns any videos created outright.”
Turns out you get what you pay for and giving out tiny sums of money means that the only people who are going to make stuff are either so amateur that it seems like better than nothing or so niave they actually think they can make substantial episodic video for no money.
Until distributors start putting real money on the table it is unlikely that we will see a big jump in quality content.
Michael Eisner might have ended up in the world of web video by default after being (i think) pretty much driven out of Hollywood-proper but he’s certainly sticking to it.
Eisner’s company, Vuguru, was behind the ambitious Prom Queen web series and the currently running All-For-Knots.
He was speaking at Microsoft’s advance08 digital advertising conference in Redmond and had this to say about the big boys:
“I believe if the major distributors ignore this piece of the business, and make it hard for content producers to break even, make a little bit of money … they will find somebody like me — or somebody better-funded or somebody younger — (who) is going to create basically a portal … and they will be creating their own worst nightmare, which is another competitor.”
I certainly think he is right that the current budgets being proffered by the larger media companies are very small but they are in line with the sorts of revenue they’ve generated so far. In short time, there will be a few genuine web success stories and the major distributors will either buy out the succesful little fish or push them out by force.
NewTeeVee has a good quick look at the three new series launched by Comedy.com
“Undaunted by the comedy competition from all sides, upstart funny site Comedy.com launched three new web series this week, Glitch in the System, Do Unto Others and Incognegro.”
NewTeeVee seems underwhelmed and I have to concur. Once again this is an example of programming that would never make it on TV and yet isn’t special or unique enough to garner a small, dedicated following within a key niche.
These seem to be the two main ways to succeed online: Make something so good that it can legitimately appeal to a large audience or make something so well focuses on a single group that they can’t live without it.
Comedy.com has not done either of these things.
NewTeeVee has started an interesting discussion regarding how many episodes to release when launching a webseries:
“Sci-Fi, drama, even sitcoms are based on character development and plot — not jokes. When you’re telling stories in 2 to 5 minute increments, it’s hard to provide enough elements to get people hooked with just one episode. So how many episodes is ideal to get viewers to keep coming back?”
This is definitely a big question for distributors. What if you release the entire series at once? The lifespan over time could be shorter but perhaps there would be a higher chance of people watching until the end of a season.
There’s been lots of talk about the return of live, in-show ads in a number of talk shows including Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno and Ellen Degeneres and now networks like NBC are making it clear that their new slate of webisodes will include a new degree of product integration beyond just simple brand placement.
What will this actually mean? Well, it depends on how far they go in the name of the sponsor at the cost of the viewer. It’s not as though modern viewers are used to being bombarded with a constant stream of corporate names and images and if those elements happen to be part of a good plotline with compelling characters people won’t care at all. However, if the show itself is just a vehicle for the brand or the message than viewers will be turned off from both the show and the sponsors.
A bigger question might be whether or not a brand well-integrated into a show will still have the desired effect of driving sales…
Plenty of folks writing about the 1-year anniversary of the Will Ferrell-backed web video site FunnyOrDie. After leaping into peoples hearts and minds with The Landlord viral video the numbers for the site have sunk back down to earth.
The latest figures show just over 500,000 total unique viewers for the month of March – down nearly 1 million from it’s high point a year ago.
Considering this blog, which features only my own little writings a few times a day is able to get 5000 uniques a month with no advertsing or publicity to speak of it just doesn’t seem like 500,000 for a site like FunnyOrDie is all that impressive.
It doesn’t help that they have very little truly original content or that their videos often find themselves widely syndicated off-site but I just don’t understand how the site can survive another year at those numbers.