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Monday, August 14, 2006

Al Gore's Current TV, one year later

The San Francisco Chronicle looks at Current TV, the cable and satelllite channel that relies heavily on user-submitted content, a year after its launch. The channel is now carried in 30 million homes, and plans for an online expansion and an international version are in the works. They've also just hired the co-creator of `The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.' But Joe Garofoli frames the challenge ahead:

    ...[W]hile Current may have been ahead of the curve on this trend [user-generated content], the next challenge it confronts is tougher: Many in the channel's targeted 18-34 demographic may not be able to afford the premium-tier service of some digital cable systems, where Current is carried. Others may prefer lapping up videos online in YouTube's free-form format rather than on Current's more organized site. Critics continue to ask: Is Current focused on the wrong medium?

    Current "caught the (viewer-created content) trend early, but it is kind of surfing by them," said John Higgins, business editor at Broadcasting & Cable magazine, a trade publication for the television industry. "These guys (at Current) had all the right ideas and all the same machinery in place that YouTube did, but they didn't quite do it. Lighting struck 10 feet to the left of them.

    "Do you ever hear people say, 'Did you see that video on Current?' No. They say, 'Did you see that video on YouTube?' " Higgins said.


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