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Sunday, November 05, 2006

How Internet Video is Changing Hollywood ... Comcast Considering User-Gen Content ... Mentos & Diet Coke: The Sequel ... Pixar v. DreamWorks

- A piece of mine ran in the `Current' section of the Los Angeles Times today, focusing on how Internet video is changing the business and culture of Hollywood. The opening:

    THE INTERNET IS rerouting the road to stardom and rewriting long-held beliefs about how entertainment hits are made.

    Complete unknowns such as Judson Laipply are producing online videos ("Evolution of Dance") for the cost of a camcorder tape and attracting more viewers — 34 million at last count — than the average episode of "Seinfeld" in its heyday. A pair of new-age vaudevillians in Maine parlayed 101 bottles of Diet Coke and some Mentos into a $30,000 payday by allowing ads to be placed at the end of their video. And last month, Google acquired the video-sharing site YouTube for $1.6 billion, sending the message that it believes the consumer-generated video trend is here to stay.

They were also kind enough to mention, in the bio at the end, my new eBook, The Future of Web Video: Opportunities for Producers, Entrepreneurs, Media Companies and Advertisers.

A few related (and unrelated) links:

- Comcast is trying to figure out how to integrate user-generated video into its cable video-on-demand service, according to The Wall Street Journal. Peter Grant writes:

    Comcast, the country's largest cable-TV operator with more than 21 million subscribers, has had talks with some of the largest Web-video companies -- including YouTube Inc. and Revver Inc. -- about adding "user generated content" to its video-on-demand service, people with knowledge of the talks say. Comcast's plans include organizing the content or videos in video-on-demand genres and sponsoring contests for best content in each genre.

    Philadelphia-based Comcast, the country's largest provider of high-speed Internet hookups, also is planning to add user content to its Web portal, Comcast.net1. That site, which has already built up a vast library of music videos, movie trailers and other videos, currently streams as many as four million short videos a day.

    Rather than doing a deal with an established Web video company, Comcast may develop its own service for soliciting and displaying user content. Comcast could announce its plans as early as the end of next month, people say. Revver acknowledged that it has had talks with Comcast. YouTube, which is being acquired by Google Inc., declined to comment.

- The EepyBird guys up in Maine, Stephen Voltz and Fritz Grobe, made more than $30,000 from their first `Extreme Diet Coke and Mentos' video this summer by posting it on Revver, and having a clickable, still-frame ad shown at the end of it. Now, they've jumped the fence, and are working with Google Video for the sequel, called `The Domino Effect.'

It's unclear how the economics of this new arrangement work, but it seems like Google has sold a sponsorship to the Coca-Cola Company on EepyBird's behalf. (There's no pre-roll, post-roll, or mid-roll advertising on the video itself, but there are Google text ads on the page, and Voltz and Grobe are running a video contest on Coke's site. I suspect Google is trying to understand whether click-through rates on ads are higher when a viewer 'sits' on a page for a few minutes; the new video runs 3:01.) NPR had a story mentioning the deal yesterday, `Google Raises the Stakes for Amateur Videos.' But Google isn't yet open to just anyone, as you'll see from this blog entry from ZDNet. They're just doing a test with Voltz and Grobe.

- Merissa Marr of the Wall Street Journal has a really fun piece (subscription required) asking the question we've all asked at some point: why does it sometimes seem like DreamWorks and Pixar are making withdrawals from the same idea bank? ('A Bug's Life' from Pixar follows 'Antz' from DreamWorks; 'Shark Tale' from DreamWorks follows 'Finding Nemo' from Pixar; and now Pixar's `Ratatouille' will follow DreamWorks/Aardman's `Flushed Away.')