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Summary:

The weak ad market is forcing breakout online video studio EQAL out of the original content business, and into the arms of old-school media…

imageThe weak ad market is forcing breakout online video studio EQAL out of the original content business, and into the arms of old-school media giants like *CBS*. EQAL is halting development and funding of its own standalone series, in favor of running the online video properties for existing brands like CBS’ Harpers Island (called Harper’s Globe) or Food Network icon Paula Deen (with a new property called Get Cookin’). It’s just the latest twist in the ongoing online video shakeout — though EQAL remains in better standing than shuttered studios like ManiaTV or 60Frames.

Co-founder and CEO Miles Beckett all but predicted the shift during our Year End Digital Review and Mixer in December: he noted that EQAL’s existing business model — creating shows and then getting big brand sponsors (like Neutrogena for lonelygirl15) to pay up — wasn’t scalable or viable for the long term. Co-founder and COO Greg Goodfried told NewTeeVee that advertisers wanted to sponsor properties that already had large audiences — not new series that weren’t guaranteed to succeed.

Find out about the projects EQAL will be developing for other brands after the jump.

EQAL is working on a number of third-party properties to help keep the lights on in the meantime: First up is Get Cookin’; the reality TV/cooking show hybrid follows Deen on the road, and fans will be encouraged to upload their own videos and blog posts. There’s also a pending project for CSI-creator Anthony Zuiker, called Level26.com (pictured), a “digi-novel” that includes online and actual bound book storytelling, as well The Kind Life, a green-centric series fronted by actress Alicia Silverstone. MediaWeek first reported that EQAL was foregoing its own original content at the OnfrontNYC event, a sort-of digital “upfront” for online content companies.

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  1. i find this confusing

    they are still making originals, but they are now making sure they have the brands attached before they make them.

  2. Hey Adam:

    I reread the post, and saw that there were some ambiguity. I think I've updated it to better reflect the difference between what EQAL was doing before (funding and developing its own shows), to what it's doing now (developing shows for other companies).

    -TK

  3. Colin Donald Friday, June 12, 2009

    Tameka,

    It seems to me that regardless of the "original" aspect, what EQAL is doing is what we predicted in Futurescape's WeVision report, of which I'm co-author.

    The methodology we recommend for online video productions is to target specific communities of interest and to engage these potential viewers via charismatic individuals.

    Ideally, the shows are made in collaboration with the community and signing up brand sponsors is facilitated when the audience's interests are clearly defined.

    And now we see EQAL aiming to engage viewers around cookery with Paula Deen and green issues with Alicia Silverstone.

    Much of the future of online entertainment will be defined by:

    – How producers can relate their shows to communities

    – How old and new media can complement their respective strengths to create new opportunities

    By those criteria, EQAL's approach has considerable advantages.

  4. I agree, the article and release in general is very confusing. Clearly, the Paula Deen show and the Alicia show are original.

    These guys impress me time and time again.

  5. what colin above says applies to ANY content — not sure why people would assume the internet would be any different. eqal is smart to take this play and isn't the only company doing so believe me. tons are backing away from funding — or even creating — their own original web tv content because it is too early to make any real money. it doesn't have to be this way overall with the web but there aren't enough people to be able to move the user base/trend this direction.

    i'm not sure why people have a difficult time understanding that the web is just a new platform — all the same rules apply. it's much easier if this is how you see it.

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