YouTube joins the online TV game late

October 11, 2008

As widely reported yesterday, Google is now going to add full-length TV shows to YouTube. It’s about time. Finally, we can all watch what we really want: MacGyver. See the pilot episode below. Actually, this episode has been online for a month already, and has amassed a whopping 1,023 views. Let’s give MacGyver the Rodney Dangerfield award for Least Respect For An Online TV Debut.

(Note about above video window: this is the pilot episode of MacGyver. But YouTube embedding doesn’t seem to work for full-length episodes so you may get a message saying the video is no longer available, even though it is. Hmmm, YouTube is playing a little catch-up to Hulu.com.)

This is one of those full-circle moments. Remember when the press erroneously labeled Hulu.com (before it was even called Hulu.com) a YouTube killer? This article I dug up from Reuters from March 2007 stopped short of saying “killer” but definitely pitched them as rivals. I went on record in that article disputing that idea:

“It’s not actually going to take away from YouTube because it’s as much about the social experience as the video. So YouTube is going to be fine,” said James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research.

I stand by that statement. Clearly, at 5 billion videos a month, YouTube is doing just fine, responsible for 44% of all videos streamed in the US (according to that NYT article above, but probably closer to 25% of minutes, given the short nature of its clips).

But with the tremendous growth of Hulu.com, ABC.com, and the rest, it’s no surprise YouTube would finally give in and put full episodes on; in higher quality than normal YouTube fare; and with ads before, during, and after (what good are those? as Michael Eisner said on stage last week, “Those aren’t commercials, those are credits”). 

The question I got Friday from a major news outlet was: Can YouTube dominate the online TV space? It’s a valid question but the answer is this: No. 

Certainly not as long as CBS and its properties are the primary TV content featured. It’s not a knock — CBS content can rock — but CBS content is everywhere. You can see it on Joost, you can even come across it on IMDB when searching for “MacGyver” (which I’m sure you do nearly daily).  Oh, yeah, and on CBS.com.

The answer is still no even once other network content shows up there — which I’m sure it will eventually, remember Hulu.com offered itself to YouTube from the beginning, an offer which Google CEO Eric Schmidt smugly declined.

There’s little reason for people already on YouTube to interrupt the site’s social, clip-focused experience to watch a full-length episode. And if you hit the Web knowing you want a particular TV show, you’re as likely to go to its home page as you are to go to YouTube.

I’m not saying YouTube won’t stream millions of TV shows. It will. I’d guess at least 25 million in the month of December, roughly half of what NBC.com or a similar site streams in an average month. But it won’t dominate. So put it this way: YouTube won’t be a Hulu.com killer…

Add your thoughts: will you watch full-length episodes on YouTube? (Other than MacGyver, of course, which we know you’ve already watched there).

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Video everywhere: ATM screen in NYC runs ads

October 11, 2008

OmniVideo (OmniWhat? Read up on OmniVideo here) predicts that we’ll have many more public screens for video in the future. Not just the screen in the bar or even the elevator, but at retail, at the gas pump, and, below, you see the first ATM I’ve seen that uses full-motion video to attract passersby. 

This was in NYC on my way to speak at the Veoh-sponsored event (see my posts about Michael Eisner, online video engagement, and the heavyhitting online TV panel). The video captured my attention exactly as only full-motion video can (I promise to write more later about how video unique attracts our brains — we’re wired for video).

I was crossing from 7th Ave to 6th Ave on 26th Street, this ATM was on the north side of the street. Today, it only shows ads for the bank itself, but where could it go tomorrow? Ads for related services — travel, car loans — why not?

Where have you seen video in unusual places? It’s a new category for my blog. If you find a good one, let me know, I’d like to post a picture or video of the strangest. Maybe I’ll even start a contest for the best entry.


Panel of online TV heavyweights tells it like it is

October 8, 2008

Last night I had a chance to be the peanut butter and jelly in an impressive online video sandwich. I was spread between Michael Eisner on the one side and a panel of online TV heavyweights on the other. I’ll end the metaphor there before it gets out of hand, but it was a power-packed event, sponsored by Veoh Networks, where I presented the results of a study commissioned by Veoh and performed by Forrester Consulting about online video viewers.  

The panel, moderated by Veoh CEO Steve Mitgang, really packed a punch, with Albert Cheng of ABC, arguably the father of online TV viewing, Amanda Richman, SVP of digital at MediaVest, Greg Clayman (you have to follow the link, trust me), EVP of digital distribution at MTV Networks, Tom Morgan, CSO at Move Networks, and Patrick Keane, CMO of CBS Interactive. 

Pardon the lousy Blackberry photo quality

Pardon the lousy Blackberry photo quality

One highlight came early on when the topic of whether online video was cannibalistic of broadcast content or not. This is a question I get a lot, so it was great to hear them all answer with variations on the same theme:
Albert
TV viewing has never been higher. That’s what you would expect from it, you have a much bigger distribution pipe that used to be constrained and now it’s not. Viewing should go up. 
Greg
We went live with full episodes of South Park recently. Since then, South Park ratings have never been higher. 
Tom
Two hours before a show airs, we see a spike of people catching up on prior episodes. For two hours after the show, another spike where people who missed the show that night and didn’t DVR it can watch it to keep up. These are the shoulders of a show if you will, and they are increasing the audience.
I’ll be writing and speaking about this topic for a while to come, because I agree completely…for now. The day will come when habits move away from appointment viewing and everything becomes on-demand, just as Eisner said earlier in the evening.

Michael Eisner is a funny man

October 7, 2008

On the train home to Boston from an exciting and successful event sponsored by Veoh Networks.
I’ll have more to say tomorrow about the great content we debuted there, but for now let me say how much fun I had listening to Michael Eisner (yes, the former CEO of disney) whose on-stage interview by Brian Steinberg of Advertising Age kicked off the event. He was witty and insightful, a nice combination.

Pardon the lousy quality of my Blackberry shot

Pardon the lousy quality of my Blackberry shot

Some of his most choice comments:

 

On the future of online video and “quality”:

You have to define what quality is. Quality starts with the script.

On the dilemma of whether advertisers will follow the lead of innovative content:

Advertisers always say they want the last big thing. But they really don’t. They say till death do us part, but they’re looking at the person across the street for the next thing.

On online video ad formats:

I don’t get the controversy — 30-second preroll is annoying as hell. Fifteen seconds I can handle.

On the future of on-demand content:

All broadcast and cable will be on demand, except for sports and the final episode of something great. Appointment viewing may still be the biggest business for another 2-3 decades, but on-demand is where it goes.

And for my favorite comment of the day, on the ability of Sarah Palin to generate online video views:

I would hire her today. That wink goes a long way.