Mapping online video content into the television business model doesn’t work

This morning, I was reading a blog about the Television Industry’s response to online video content.  It was a fascinating article by Clay Shirky called “The Collapse of Complex Business Models”.  He shares an example about a web series so successful that the television industry acquired the content and tried to map it into their current business model, but the project collapsed.

In spring of 2007, the web video comedy In the Motherhood made the move to TV. In the Motherhood started online as a series of short videos, with viewers contributing funny stories from their own lives and voting on their favorites. This tactic generated good ideas at low cost as well as endearing the show to its viewers; the show’s tag line was “By Moms, For Moms, About Moms.”

The move to TV was an affirmation of this technique; when ABC launched the public forum for the new TV version, they told users their input “might just become inspiration for a story by the writers.”

Or it might not. Once the show moved to television, the Writers Guild of America got involved. They were OK with For and About Moms, but By Moms violated Guild rules. The producers tried to negotiate, to no avail, so the idea of audience engagement was canned (as was In the Motherhood itself some months later, after failing to engage viewers as the web version had).

The critical fact about this negotiation wasn’t about the mothers, or their stories, or how those stories might be used. The critical fact was that the negotiation took place in the grid of the television industry, between entities incorporated around a 20th century business logic, and entirely within invented constraints. At no point did the negotiation about audience involvement hinge on the question “Would this be an interesting thing to try?”

Either the television industry needs to adapt its model or collapse under the weight of their inefficient, bloated system.  Things have to change.  He talks about what we can expect:

In the future, at least some methods of producing video for the web will become as complex, with as many details to attend to, as television has today, and people will doubtless make pots of money on those forms of production. It’s tempting, at least for the people benefitting from the old complexity, to imagine that if things used to be complex, and they’re going to be complex, then everything can just stay complex in the meantime. That’s not how it works, however.

The most watched minute of video made in the last five years shows baby Charlie biting his brother’s finger. (Twice!) That minute has been watched by more people than the viewership of American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, and the Superbowl combined. (174 million views and counting.)

Some video still has to be complex to be valuable, but the logic of the old media ecoystem, where video had to be complex simply to be video, is broken. Expensive bits of video made in complex ways now compete with cheap bits made in simple ways. “Charlie Bit My Finger” was made by amateurs, in one take, with a lousy camera. No professionals were involved in selecting or editing or distributing it. Not one dime changed hands anywhere between creator, host, and viewers. A world where that is the kind of thing that just happens from time to time is a world where complexity is neither an absolute requirement nor an automatic advantage.

When ecosystems change and inflexible institutions collapse, their members disperse, abandoning old beliefs, trying new things, making their living in different ways than they used to. It’s easy to see the ways in which collapse to simplicity wrecks the glories of old. But there is one compensating advantage for the people who escape the old system: when the ecosystem stops rewarding complexity, it is the people who figure out how to work simply in the present, rather than the people who mastered the complexities of the past, who get to say what happens in the future.

Dallas video production company, Top Pup Media, produces a variety of media projects for businesses and corporations. Productions include corporate videos, marketing videos, tradeshow videos, promotional spots, commercials, educational and training videos.


Checking out Wistia for embedded videos in blogs

I stumbled across this new video sharing site called Wistia, and I’m curious to see what makes them different.  I already abandoned YouTube earlier this year, and Vimeo has been a great tool to switch to.  I’m curious if Wistia has any better features that what I’m used to now.

Below is an embedded video I did.  Going to see what the difference is.

I’ll update this post with some feedback after checking it out.

UPDATE: My first reaction is, “Dang, it’s expensive.”  Here’s how Vimeo and Wistia compare:

  • Vimeo has a free basic account and a “Pro” paid account $10 per month.
  • Wistia doesn’t have a free account, and their basic account is $40 per month.

At those prices, Wistia’s basic account needs to be 400% better than Vimeo’s Pro account (and infinitely better than Vimeo’s basic account).

Wistia feels a bit more like a service for companies and site designers, not a video sharing services for the masses, especially for video hobbyists.


Switching from YouTube to Vimeo

I think I’ve decided to switch my video hosting needs from YouTube to Vimeo.

The pattern I’m seeing is that YouTube is starting to remind me a lot of MySpace — cluttered, buggy, not user friendly, and full of trash. Vimeo feels a lot more like Facebook — clean, structured, user friendly and fun — other than Facebook’s bazillion apps. I hate those things.

Here are a few things I like about Vimeo:

  • Not only do they have more thumbnails to choose from, they let you upload your own.
  • The video quality just seems better. When uploading the Fissure web series on YouTube, it almost always glitched on the opening. Vimeo was perfect.
  • I love how Vimeo gives you a Quicktime MP4 download option. Very cool!
  • I’ve started using Vimeo for client reviews. The password protected feature rocks.
  • The overall interface is just clean, uncluttered and easy to use.

So, I’m making the switch.  Here’s the Fissure movie trailer from Vimeo:

As a comparison, here’s the YouTube video of the Fissure trailer: