Among the questions we’ve asked our panel of experts was this one: Which video companies won’t last 2008? Selections from their responses are below. You’ll notice that everyone seems to think somebody‘s going to fail next year, but their chosen sacrifices just happen to be the […]

Among the questions we’ve asked our panel of experts was this one: Which video companies won’t last 2008?

Selections from their responses are below. You’ll notice that everyone seems to think somebody‘s going to fail next year, but their chosen sacrifices just happen to be the opposite of the business they have a stake in. Our correspondence with the panelists happened over email, but it would have been interesting to see them point fingers if they’d all been in the same room.

We’d love to hear your take on the question or on our panelists’ predictions in the comments. For more information on the NewTeeVee 2008 outsourced predictions, see this post.

kliavkoff.jpgGeorge Kliavkoff, chief digital officer, NBC Universal (former interim Hulu CEO and leader of other NBC tech projects):

“To be successful in the online video space, you need to have either massive scale, access to a variety of differentiated premium content, or both. If you are running an online video company that features non-premium, commodity content and you missed the Internet ‘network effect’ enjoyed by YouTube and a few others, it might be time to cash out.”

nalts.jpgKevin Nalty, “self-proclaimed viral video genius” (a.k.a. Nalts from YouTube):

“Sadly, the second-tier video sites this year will sell to larger companies or fade away. The gulf between market share of YouTube and the rest of the herd has widened dramatically in 2007. Most online offerings sort out into one or two major players, but a sleuth of more niche options. The video companies that will die may have the best technology, but ultimately couldn’t get people to watch or advertisers to buy.

“I think Revver is a good example of a creator-friendly technology that could have been appraised nearly as high as YouTube but the market prized eyeballs above all else. Unless something changes, I don’t see Revver making it past 2008 and it breaks my heart. Currently the company is running AdSense ads to pay the bills, and they’re perceived as undifferentiated middleware. Ultimately, it’s very hard to simultaneously win content providers, viewers and advertisers, and once someone accumulates an audience they are hard to leapfrog.

The online video sites that try to compete with YouTube on a similar playing field are doomed unless they are strongly backed financially. LiveVideo proved that. Any video site that isn’t serving a niche will struggle, yet it’s hard for a large player to relegate itself to a niche.”

ruiz.jpgGeorge Ruiz, head of new media at International Creative Management (online video talent agent):

“The ones that solely re-purpose content from the big media companies
without offering something new or exclusive to differentiate themselves
from every other video company. That will involve partnering with talent
to develop and produce original content. Call me.”

woolf.jpgSteve Woolf, Smashface Productions (co-creator of EPIC-FU):

“Any of the companies who have raised $15 million or more and are running out
of funds now are in serious danger. You can make your own list from
there. The rest of the economy of this country is in the toilet. In
2008 that will catch up to new media companies as VC’s decide that no
one has really figured out a damn thing yet. That will be a great
time for the established entertainment and media companies to start
shopping for their acquisition targets.

“Look for lots of strategic
partnerships between traditional media companies and new media
companies in the first half of 2008. Those deals will lay the
groundwork for eventual acquisitions.”

desilva.gifRichard de Silva, general partner at Highland Capital (investor in Metacafe):

“Video ad networks with no targeting technology and sub-scale video hosting companies.”

silvestri1.jpgMax Silvestri, Gabe and Max’s Internet Thing (web video comedian):

“I am going to go against the grain and say that despite everyone
saying that it is the future, WebTV is not going to last. Sorry.”

  1. There are enough eyeballs for the top 10 video hosting sites to sustain for a while.

    I worry about the many niche sites that have launched over the past year. Even though content verticals is very popular right now, the audiences for these niche sites aren’t at a sustainable level yet and probably won’t be for another year or two.

  2. How many YouTube killers are there now?

  3. I really like Kliavkoff’s statement. It seems to be a pretty good description of Hulu. I guess it could be argued they have “massive scale”, but the only networking effect they’ve enjoyed has been the predominantly negative coverage of the blogosphere.

  4. Nice roundup, Liz. I know you didn’t ask anyone from Revver to prognosticate, but here I go: The one thing I’ve learned from my time on the “Internets” is that things change, and then change again (Yahoo!, anyone?), and that any predictions regarding the ultimate form of this very nascent marketplace need to be heavily handicapped. I think that, in 2008, the pressures between spreadable culture and intellectual property are going to make copyright an even bigger flash point; I also think that the market is going to realize that algorithms aren’t very good at managing entertainment content — real people need to be involved. The companies who understand that will survive the maelstrom — Revver included. Please visit the Revver blog for the latest exciting developments at Revver.

  5. I really wonder what Mr. Kliavkoff’s idea of “differentiated premium content” is…soon the net will be no different than FM radio with “Hot 97″, “Mix 102″ and “Fresh 95″ in every market. Do I really need 10 different ways to watch the 10 different Law & Orders that NBCU produces?

    Niche content has a home on the web. You don’t need massive numbers to survive and thrive. With the global nature and low hosting and bandwidth charges a niche provider can make it. (Or at least we are going to try…)

  6. unfortunately for the larger media companies, history suggests that they will not succeed at figuring out how to thrive in the new medium. Wrong financial structure, wrong emphasis on expensive linear programming, wrong culture. Ask Ted Turner, and Chad Hurley, and others. There is great opportunity for low cost, highly targeted, web dna certified programming that provides what the linear channels cannot— a resonant sense to their consumer that they are getting content they like and need and can share. D

  7. George will struggle between nbc and newscorps’ needs to demonstrate that they can play in the new world. To date, Hulu would be a third tier website for reruns that people on the web don’t care about

  8. My take on the subject is that the niche players will prevail. At the end of the day, most of the UGC sites out there are full of useless crap. That is, those that don’t require some level of sophistication in terms of submitted content. Otherwise, when I want to see someone stick a firecracker up his….er….where it doesn’t belong…I’ll resort to YouTube or ebaumsworld or the like. Yes, there are millions of people watching that stuff and it’s probably generating insane amounts of ad revenue…but it’s still sub-par, in my opinion. Stick to your guns…raise the bar in terms of UGC…and I think you’ll be just fine….

  9. I think your asking the wrong question here.
    Its more along the lines of:
    How will the industry change, and who of the major incumbent players are going to fail first.
    I think this is a much more interesting question.


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