Counterpoint: ‘Content Made for a Handful of People’

No matter increasingly speedy broadband connections, Internet TV is not ready to take on broadcast, cable, and satellite, Om wrote on NewTeeVee yesterday. He’s mostly right. But he asks, “can video content made for a handful of people actually make money?” And I think that’s a point worth addressing, especially in light of some recent comments by a Google exec.
“Every day 95 percent of the YouTube library is watched at least once,” Google TV technology chief Vincent Dureau told the Interactive Television Technology conference in a recent speech, according to a report in the EETimes. Ninety-five percent? That’s insane.

And that library is getting bigger all the time; Dureau, who was formerly CTO and founder at OpenTV, also said six hours of video are uploaded to the site’s archive every minute. And as anyone who has ever uploaded a video to YouTube knows, suddenly you just start getting views. You have no idea where the people are coming from, but they inevitably come.
“You need to make the long tail of this content available, and the tail is very long,” Dureau said. Being employed by Google, he comes to the conclusion that such a wealth of content means better tools for search and discovery are needed. It’s the same thing Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff commented on in Om’s post.

Biggest problem in this potential transition — finding what you’re looking for.

“We need to put a browser on the TV,” as Dureau put it. “The fact that we are talking about Internet TV is a sign the Internet is not really ready for TV. I hope soon we can just talk about TV.” You can only imagine how many views those long-tail YouTube videos would get if it were actually easy for people to find them.
Hosting online video is not bringing in the big bucks. For instance, yesterday DivX spun off its in-house hosting site Stage6 in an attempt to cut expenses and preserve high margins. But if there are people who want to watch this content, even without capable search and discovery tools — no, YouTube’s “most recently uploaded” list doesn’t count — the market for personal broadcasting enabled by the internet is definitely there.
The challenge is to try to small-time video worthwhile for both the host and the creator. Revver had been hailed as the company that was going to split the pennies right down to the smallest of audiences. But the company recently introduced CPM ads, a tacit admission that its post-roll static ads weren’t bringing in enough dough.
Meanwhile, Lonelygirl15 is the latest hit producer, following Ask a Ninja, Ze Frank, and Invisible Engine, to switch its default video provider from Revver to something else — in its case, YouTube, which has made the show a paid partner. We asked Lonelygirl co-creator Greg Goodfried about the switch at our Pier Screenings yesterday and he declined to comment.
The good thing about independent producers is they’re independent-minded, and they’ll switch to another provider if they’re going to get a better deal. That in itself will push the industry forward. The money may not be there yet, but they’ll find it.