Thanks to Chuck Tryon for linking!
As some of you know I’ve spent the fall writing my dissertation/book and interviewing for academic jobs (professorships and postdocs). Both are going well. But I haven’t blogged much in the last few months, and keeping up with news has been nearly impossible.
My last web video news roundup of August was pretty popular, so I decided to try it again with the fall. Please let me know if I’m missing anything important! The best reason to do this is to encourage people to email me or comment about whatever glaring omissions I made.
Web Video Moves and Deals
- YouTube: After proving the marketability of their channels with the help of comScore, YouTube took a big step forward in its years-long quest for big-media cash. Google has set its eyes on traditional television, and it plans to get there any way possible: through physical TV sets, Google TV, or by pumping $100 million into original production for YouTube through new “channels” — listed here — and an accompanying redesign. Included in the new YouTube’s content offerings will be celebrity channels, which have been a long time in the making. Tubefilter has done a great job interviewing some of the leading content providers for the site who scored new channels, who include: My Damn Channel, EQAL, Maker, Young Turks, Mondo Media, The Fine Brothers, Seedwell, Smosh, Clevver (with Spanish-language offerings), BlackBox TV, IGN, Disney, Hearst; TF has also rounded up some of the opinions of the site’s more influential users, which are mostly positive. One of the main drawbacks, however, is discovery: as Ryan Lawler theorizes, if you’re a casual YouTube viewer, you may find the new layout a hinderance to finding new channels and verticals. David Berkowitz says the advantages of (re)creating community on YouTube with the more streamlined design might outweigh those problems. Luckily for the site, its leading partners are also bolstering their content offerings independently, with the likes Vevo creating scripted fare. In other news YouTube launched a merchandise store to sell products from its partners.
- Netflix: Seeing its stock plummet after a series of peculiar and misinformed management decisions, the web’s leading library of Hollywood content (no longer so indie-friendly) tried to claw its way back: securing libraries from Dreamworks and Time Warner, reportedly distributing an original horror series by Eli Roth, bringing back Arrested Development, and of course there’s House of Cards, Netflix’s way of competing with HBO.
- Hulu: First it went on sale, then it decided to reconsider, then it called it off. Hulu may be sold in the future, but for now it remains in Comcast/News Corp. hands. Meanwhile the online network has been expanding globally, distributing original series, buying up and bidding on content libraries and classic series, expanding its Spanish-language/Latin@ programming and licensing itself to other new media companies like Yahoo.
- Yahoo: Yahoo took a big step into web original programming, debuting more than a half-dozen shows showcasing various, affordable celebrities and reportedly creating a studio space in New York.
- Aol: Not to be outdone, Aol announced twice as many series, including the buzzy Aim High distributed on a revamped Cambio and Facebook.
- TV Stars Go Online: Glenn Beck went online and is doing really well; Louis CK did the same and made thousands in no time flat.
- Machinima: On fire with original content — clocking in one billion views last month — the network premiered a number of ambitious new series from RCVR, Dragon Age and the likes of Tommy Wiseau. The Mortal Kombat web series it distributed scored a potentially lucrative movie deal.
- Blip: Honing in on professional content this year, the site has been improving advertising metrics/analytics and promising creators top-dollar from ad revenue. The company had some changes at the top but assert the site’s mission is in place.
- Atom: Tubefilter reported in September that the Viacom-owned site, one of the oldest web networks (1998!), is being folded into Comedy Central. A glance at the homepage today reveals the brand is still intact but a new motto has indeed been added: “Comedy Central Originals.”
- College Humor: Among the leading comedy sites online, CH launched a companion network and upgraded one of its marquee series Jake & Amir.
- Alloy: Will never abandon the web.
- Vuguru: Liz Shannon Miller takes a nice broad yet detailed look at what the new media studio has been up to recently, including partnering with Stan Lee, no stranger to the web world, for cross-platform content creation.
- NBC may, in a roundabout way, be headed back into original web series production.
- Filling the hole soon-to-be-left by Current, Mark Burnett launched the YouToo on-air channel, soliciting user input and showing web series.
- Madame Noire: Among the leading websites for black women launched two reality-based web series, one with a French Prince alum.
Aside from the aforementioned web projects, there have been some important trends and news in the space.
- IAWTV Awards: As the Streamys move forward, so have the IAWTV Awards, which will happen next month at CES. The list of nominees has been released, and, as Liz Miller notes, contains a healthy mix of indies and corporate-sponsored content. I would personally have preferred some more racial diversity, though I know a few content creators who chose not to submit for various reasons, many of which were justifiable. Here’s a video of IAWTV Chair Paul Kontonis discussing the announcement.
- All My Children/One Life to Live: The on-again, off-again quest to bring ABC/Prospect Park soaps online was most recently off. Blaming unions, Prospect Park then said there was hope for fans. Who knows what 2012 will bring.
- The Annoying Orange: Headed to television (Cartoon Network), Annoying Orange is competing with Fred for most successful web series for the under 18-set. Back in September Chris Atkinson took a broad look at the franchise’s success.
- Fred: Annoying Orange has its work cut out for it. Fred inked another deal with Nickelodeon for a third movie and 20-episode series, while creating a live show online and an animated series. Can any web-grown property compete?
- The Confession: DBG’s Kiefer Sutherland vehicle was picked up for international distribution by Sony and Bell.
- What’s Trending: The beloved, independent web show parted ways with CBS — though that network is still funding web content — for predicting Steve Jobs’ death a little too early, but the show is still alive and kicking.
- Broad City: With Amy Poehler signed on to executive produce the UCB web series, FX picked it up with a script commitment.
- Nielsen: The company has combined web and TV ratings; please tell TV networks that. In other news, the data strongly suggest that ad recall is best when users see the same ads on TV and the web.
- Viewership: All signs point to a rise in online video viewership and audiences, as studies show a plurality of viewers spend hours watching over-the-top video.
- Advertising: Real-time bidding for serving ads on videos is becoming more popular and may be, indeed, more effective.
- Flash: Killed by Apple? Adobe released a version of Flash that works with Apple devices, then Adobe stopped developing new Flash versions for mobile.
- Over-the-Top: It’s a buzzword again, with everyone from Sony (console streaming), to DirectTV (live streaming on mobile devices) to Verizon (streaming apps) either in the process of or already implementing non-TV-based distribution services. Meanwhile Google seems to be plotting a move to become a straight-up cable company, if I’m reading reports correctly. This is all happening while content providers and MSOs continue a legal battle over rights and fees for distributing television on mobile devices.
- Spectrum: Negotiations over incentivizing broadcasters to sell their spectrum to broadband/wireless companies are still ongoing, in a rare battle that clearly pits old against new media. There are a lot of summary articles online about the debate; here’s one. Are there alternative options? Perhaps. Months ago, Tom Stroup advocated for dynamic spectrum access to solve the presumed, coming spectrum crunch. Yet Yochai Benkler says the government rush to sell spectrum to incentivized broadcasters (to raise money) will come at the cost of innovation, which is already happening through Wifi tech: “These auctions may lock in an outdated regulatory paradigm, strengthen the dominant mobile broadband carriers, and block the path for some of the most innovative wireless technologies that could improve mobile broadband speed and reduce its price over the next decade.”
- Piracy: The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)/Protect IP Act (PIPA) are still being debated by Congress and so far it seems unclear whether votes will be delayed or bills rewritten. Given the amount of cash copyright owners (personified by lobbying groups like the MPAA) give to Congress, it’s a testament to the bill’s vast unpopularity that it hasn’t already passed. The CliffNotes version of the bill has the government creating a blacklist of sites that violate copyright; The Pirate Bay is cited as among the chief targets here. Among the bill’s many problems is its placing the burden on sites, not copyright owners, to prove they are not violating piracy — a request to take a site down would seemingly be granted without review. This has been compared to censorship. If that sounds about right to you, you can take action here.
- AT&T/T-Mobile: It’s looking like this much-hated merger will not happen.