Next New, or Next Not Networks

Earlier this evening, over some crispy tandoori lamb chops in the Tandoor-loin district of San Francisco, I indulged in a spirited discussion about the post Broadband media world with a new media guy trapped in the old media world, aka home base for my beloved New York Yankees.

Discussions were wide ranging, but we ended up deliberating about start-ups that are raising gobs of money, and signing up rights for content niches. We chortled over the premium dollars content creators were going to extract out of these famous start-ups with deep pockets, as they desperately tried to build their audiences.

One name that popped up was Next New Networks, a New York-based company backed by Spark Capital.

I came home to find an announcement about their launch and funding on NewTeeVee. It would be too easy to call it “yet another video startup.”

Ex-chairman of MTV Networks! Former COO of Sundance and someone from Turner — an executive team pre-fabricated for achieving maximum PR impact. Hollywood Reporter, Variety, WSJ and LA Times gladly obliged. Personally I feel I am reading credits for a Miramax movie.

If you are old enough to remember some of that e-tail incubation plays based in Silicon Alley, then you know it is time to hit the exit door. At that time, grizzly veterans of toy and garment and steel business were raising gobs of money, and setting up shop. You know how that story ended.

As Yogi said, it’s like deja vu all over again

But what NNN really is, a bunch of old media guys, getting into this new video game, cash in on the user-generated buzz that comes with a $1.65 billion buyout and $50 CPM.

You want to know how they are old media guys? Look at their bios, and how much pixel space they have devoted to themselves. Compare that to the amount of space Steve and Chad get on YouTube. You want further proof they are old media, with little handle on the new world: they have “networks” as part of their name. (Compare that to Blip.TV, Magnify, Rocket Boom, or… you get the drift!) Networks (TV and Cable) embody a world of distribution scarcity that decided winners and losers. In the broadband world, distribution is plentiful.

“Our thing is simple: We’re audience people,” said Herb Scannell (MTV and Nickelodeon.) “We’re championing and targeting communities that are making and distributing robust content, and providing them a home base with networks, built specifically for the Internet.”

NNN is scant on details as to how its model is going to work. They neither have the talent secured or an audience to lure the talent (content creators, but old media guys understand talent better.)

Matt Marshall says they are going to build niche audiences around 3-to-12-minute shows, and sell advertising against it. LA Times says there are going to be 30 of these “micro TV networks.” Matt compares them to Revision3, but the crucial difference is that there was DiggNation and hence there was an audience before there was Revision3, the company.

NNN, it seems, is putting buggy before the horse. All they can do is buy into the market. I mean, if you are an established Internet star, the only reason you would take your show (and community,) however small or niche-y it is to NNN for one reason: to put your hands into the pockets of NNN fat cats and grab some of those $8 million in VC dollars.

Otherwise, in this post-YouTube world, you don’t really need NNN? There are several other options. And if they were not enough, then Google is beginning to sell ads for some video stars ( for example). Hosting is nearly free, and digital camera prices are falling. Eyeballs are distributed, and peer-ed. If you are as good, as say WallStrip, the audience will find you. Next New seems more like a Next Not Network.