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Monday, November 10, 2008

VideoNuze Panel: How to Profit from Broadband Video's Disruptive Impact

Will Richmond, editor of VideoNuze, was kind enough to invite me to a breakfast panel he organized today, as part of the CTAM Summit, a conference for the cable and telecom industries. Despite the fact that it was held at 7:30 AM on a Monday morning, there was a great turnout.

A few notes....

- Roy Price, who runs digital video at Amazon, asked of traditional media producers: if you're too cautious about keeping content off the Web, are you creating an opportunity for someone else [other content creators] to be there?

- Peter Stern of Time Warner Cable said, "If consumers can get the content they want, when they want it, they will opt for the highest-resolution screen available to them at the time." That seems true, but often these days they're watching low-res Web video on their laptops because Time Warner Cable doesn't actually give them access to any content they want, when they want it.

- Fred Seibert of nextnewnetworks said that all of the new format possibilities available to content creators can be confusing. 'There's some real comfort in knowing that you need to make a show that's 30 minutes long or 60 minutes long, or a movie that's two hours long." But those formats won't necessarily be the most appealing to Web viewers. "Shorter has turned out to be better, and shorter creates certain disciplines," he said, adding that it's still possible to create short content that is simply short and bad... not short and good.

- Deanna Brown of Scripps Networks said that "all of the activity around video is really exciting and important to explore," like commenting, reviewing, annotating, and sharing it. Brown mentioned that an online community called 'Rate My Space' (it's like "hot or not" for interior design, with users posting pictures of rooms in their homes) had developed quite quickly into a TV show for HGTV.

- David Eun of Google talked about the "head" and the "tail" of Chris Anderson's "long tail" model. He said that in between the two (basically, between big hits and narrowly-focused content that appeals to a tiny audience), there's a "torso": high-quality specialty niche programming. "That's what drove cable TV," Eun said, "and that will be a sweet spot for Internet video."

- Eun urged the audience to try not to define what "good" is. Viewers don't care what professional programmers and cable execs think is good; sometimes they're happy to watch dogs on skateboards. Thinking narrowly about what "good" programming is can be limiting.

- Moderator Will Richmond asked his panelists what their 2009 priorities are. Eun said "monetization," since YouTube hasn't figured out how to turn a profit on all those videos it delivers. Roy Price of Amazon said that it's continued growth in video selection, continued integration with the expanding universe of connected TVs and devices, and exploring new business models.

- Richmond made a great point, I think quoting someone else: "In the past, scarcity [making content available only in one place] bred value... but in the present and the future, scarcity breeds piracy."

- After the panel, I had a chance to sit down for a chat with Fred Seibert, which I've posted as a podcast.

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