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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Striking Writers as Web Video Entrepreneurs

The LA Times has a story today about striking movie and TV writers talking to investors about creating new Internet ventures that would bypass studios and connect directly with consumers.

Joseph Menn writes:

    Already this year, a handful of sites have received venture [capital] backing, including, co-founded by comedic actor Will Ferrell, and, launched by former MTV executive Rob Barnett.

    MyDamnChannel pays for the production of original content by a handful of artists and splits ad revenue with them.

I think some of these ventures will work. The odds improve if:

    1. The strike drags on, and pulls in directors and actors next year
    2. These sites can get other established stars involved, a la Will Ferrell
    3. The sites can create a new generation of Web celebs (like the Ninja or, god help us, Lonelygirl15)
    4. Good quality writing and a strong creative team can produce either a string of break-out, one-off viral hits (like "The Landlord") or a series of videos that people watch over time (like "Red vs. Blue" or "Homestar Runner's" Strongbad e-mail series)
    5. They've got their own in-house ad sales/sponsorship/product placement people.

Despite all that, I'm not sure how these mini-content studios will prove to be great short-term investments for venture capitalists. These feel to me like businesses that'll take a while to build.

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