User-gen content ain't dead ... but it'll have to fight for viewers
There was a time not that long ago when UGC seemed poised to topple Hollywood, as if anyone with a video camera and a Web connection was deemed a budding Steven Spielberg. But ask yourself this: When was the last time an amateur viral video actually reached viral status?
This is in the vein of my article last December in the Mercury News, suggesting that while big media companies were slow in grasping the Net's video-distribution potential, they were going to figure it out soon enough. In that piece, there's a quote from ABC exec Albert Cheng:
"Pirated content and user-generated content was all that was available on the Web [for a long time]," says Albert Cheng, executive vice president of digital media for the Disney-ABC Television Group. "Once you see media companies such as ours putting more content online, I think there will be a shift in what people choose, back toward professionally-produced content."
Some argue that viewers on the Internet simply prefer the wacky, unpredictable, and more informal quality of amateur-made videos, comparing the genre to reality TV shows that have become increasingly popular in the past five years.
But every new medium goes through an early period of playful, sometimes aimless, experimentation.
I don't think amateur video content is going away... in fact, more of it will be produced every year. I don't think we'll stop seeing viral videos that come from amateurs or semi-pros and reach millions of people. I just think our diet of online video is getting more balanced -- a mix of stuff from big media, smaller producers, and individuals.