Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A quarter life on YouTube

I was reading this article by Brian Stelter, in the NY Times this morning.

The title is an indication of everything that's wrong about how people view online video: "Can NBC do for 'Quarterlife' what YouTube could not?"

What YouTube(a la the online video marketplace) can do for you isn't measurable in the same time frame that NBC(a la TV markets) are measured. Remember that if the space is different, then surely there has to be some variance in the temporal context as well.

I think Quarterlife on the web is a brilliant idea. If nothing, even when the show has reached its shelf life on NBC, and is still circulating on the web, there will always be someone watching it. And maybe buying or renting the DVD of the show thereafter. And that's just my simplistic view of a potential opportunity in the Web >> TV space.

Truth is, there's plenty of room to innovate in this new world, and to be really successful, one has to shed every inch of old school in them, and approach the opportunity with a great deal of imagination.

Off the top of my head, 4 strategies for building the first quarter of shelf life for Web >> TV content:

[a]. Diversify your Internet markets- don't just bank on YouTube. Use other videos sharing sites, build your own platforms, cross promote, moblog, vlog, flog...whatever. Leave no stone unturned in reaching different audiences(markets), just like you wouldn't when promoting your exclusive TV content.

[b]. Incentive-ize creation: Don't worry about mainstream viability. If you produce top quality content, it'll be a hit right away. If you produce mediocre content, it won't be a hit, but over a little longer time line(depending on the level of mediocrity...! =) ), you will probably still make as much money as you did from the hits. (says Chris Anderson, Editor-in-chief at Wired Magazine).

So your best bet, even on the creative front, is to encourage content creation. That's one thing that'll probably never change, no matter how grand our business models get....content is king.

[c]. Understand Distribution 2.o: Anything YOU can distribute, millions of web users can distribute better.
Think of it this way- the first thing you'd do before you build your marketing and distributing strategy is to identify(and we know how much fun that can get) the best possible markets/audiences for your content.

Well, I'm a relative nobody in the Internet space, and I have about a few hundred friends on the Internet(who I also happen to know in real life...), each of whom, on average, will at least have a couple o' hundred friends each. Do the math on the orders of magnitude...what happens when I send out a video to all my friends, and some of them decide to do the same to all their friends?

And then remember that I'm a relative nobody in the Internet space. I'm just one guy. There're millions like me all over.
Reach out to us. We'll distribute for you- with no incentive at all. And at no cost to you. Beat that.

[d]. Help make connections: The more handshakes you can facilitate, the better the chances of people re-connecting a second time, over similar interests. This is probably only feasible when you're building your own distribution platform, but a lot of people don't think too hard about this. And it's totally worth some thought.

Technology makes it possible today to group people with similar tastes, preferences, viewing history, etc. It's a really cool way to stimulate virtual on-demand markets. If you help me find 50 people just like me on your network, then chances are that when I see something that's interesting to me, I'll share it with those 50 new friends I've made...first.
And the same applies to each of those 50 friends. And each of their friends. And their friends' friends.
Think about it.
And all you did was help people identify folks with similar tastes.


I could probably cook up a few more. But then, I'd have to move into consulting and leave behind our startup. And that wouldn't go over too well, of course. :)