Blog Post

NTV Live Panel: Crossover Hits

Web Video Meets TV

Moderator:Gregg Spiridellis, JibJab

Speakers: Lisa Donovan, LisaNova; Douglas Cheney, Big Fantastic; Kevin Cohen, Turner Broadcasting System; Ty Ahmad-Taylor, MTV; Gary Wang, Todou

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Introducing Spiridellis, who, is introducing the panel, and asking them to introduce themselves and ask them for the epiphany moment. For Spiridellis it was a “dancing dootie.”

LisaNova discovering YouTube was a seminal moment, people were communicating. She was more interested in film. Put a video up and it took off, and the fan base just kept growing, 75,000 subscribers. Consistently 500,000 plays.

What about YouTube did you like?

LISA: It was the instant feedback. We were able to just do something creative and immediately put it out there. So used to having people tell them what to do. It was amazing to communicate with subscriber base.

DOUG: In 2005 working on a doc he was distributing, stumbled across YouTube and was blown away. Bridging that gap between creator and user. This really seemed like the most prolifiic way to to that. Put together a team of filmmakers and make Sam Has Seven Friends. 80 episodes (90 seconds each). That secured representation at UTA. Through UTA met with Eisner’s Vuguru, pitched Prom Queen. They liked his enthusiasm.

TY: He runs prod dev for MTV properties. Was working at the New York Times, read about Shockwave. Decided he wanted to do it instead of writing about it. In terms of what we’re doing, the core assets are music videos and TV shows, since we only have one scripted drama still in production despite strike. Looking to create efficiencies in regards to socialization.

GARY: Online distribution platform with both preimum and UGC in China. Was working for another company, and was sent to China to try and bring European content to China. Born out of frustration because Chinese govt runs the TV stations. Back in 2004 a friend told him about podcasts. And he thought this was interesting. Site went live in April 2005. This was his first venture ever. Says you don’t have to pay people a lot of money (especially in China). He wrote most of the code. They raised a round, gone through three rounds of funding. Month uniques of about a million in China. They account for 54 percent of the market.

KEVIN: Been with TBS for 12 years, CNN, TBS, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim. First time he knew he wanted to be a part of this space was in 1994 with the Mosaic browser and clicking on his first hyperlink. CNN is today the largest news site, 31 million uniques online, passed the 1 billion usage minutes-mark. Despite explosion of data, TV viewing is still at its highest point.

GREGG: What is the tangible moment about success? This Land had 130,000 people on newsletter, when This Land launched did million streams a day.

LISA: Felt that way every moment, first video out, 30,000 people watched in one day. When you hit a million views that’s another succes. They’re all moments of success. It’s unbelievable until it became normal.

GREGG: She went from YouTube to MADTV. How did that happen?

LISA: Casting director saw Teeny-Weeny and gave her a call. There was no middleman, you can put something out there and you’re cast on a TV show It’s just access to the world.

DOUG: Commenting that his partner never ate his pants despite promises he would if they met with Eisner. Prom Queen’s success was when core audience broke off to start their own forums because so popular.

TY: First arrived, it was a Flash site, it wasn’t SEO optimized, too a long time to load, didn’t have standard ad units. Ads would overtake nav. Created HTML version of the site, performed spectacularly. For VMAs, performed well, delivered more streams (Britney!).

GARY: Had many top videos, for him success was that he gave a speech and a university in China, asked a room full of students, asked how many were users, 95 percent raised their hands. Has best of Todou show on three TV networks in China.

Success in terms of monetization?

GARY: Yes. No diffrence between TV and PC and mobile soon. Hopefully will take the site public.

GREGG: Many different ways to measure success, reach, brand, etc.

KEVIN: Broadband sites averaging over 20 million uniques a month, but monetizing important. Focused on the mobile space. CNN is the largest mobile destination as well. The key is that we aren’t just taking TV content and throwing it online. Putting content that is suitable for the platform.

GREGG: Investment in original programming for the medium? Deficit financing?

KEVIN: When we started, we were investing in the infrastructure, but also approaching on-air brands. The way we organize, 85 percent of sales are integrated sales across platforms. Been very successful. SuperDeluxe? What you’re seeing is that it’s a challenge to launch a new cable network, unless you want to write a billion-dollar check, or are a cable provider. No barriers in the online space. Launched SuperDeluxe, going after younger talent in Hollywood. People who have proven themseleves in the. Trying to create content suitable for that audience.

GREGG: Ty, you have access to so much programming and Facebook, platform as programming. How you see what impact that has on distribution.

TY: Gap between internal metrics and comScore. Our target demo doesn’t respond to comScore surveys. You need a number of eyeballs watching videos. in our case, most of our customers are already on MySpace and Facebook, there’s still a perception that we’re not showing videos, but that’s because people switch off. First Facebook app is watching videos, any video in the catalog. Get the videos to your friends. Fairly simple, search play and send to friends. You can follow people in your social graph to see what they’ve been watching. Looking to roll this out to other properties on a niche basis. See a Hills application or Trick My Truck.

GREGG: Kevin, how do you look at destination/syndication and avoid conflicts?

KEVIN: One of the biggest hurdles is competitive sales teams. Distribution partners might allow run of site while someone else selling against a particular brand. There are ways of working around that. Embeddable players, a particular site can pull a particular clip, coming back to us and we can control the advertising. We have RSS feeds, and other initiaives, like the Second Life i-report in Second Life. We’re being proactive in going out to the super syndication space.

TY: It’s a mistake to think that we’re going to be gatekeepers. The current windowing strategy doesn’t serve anyone’s interest. Important to us to be where our customers can find us.

GREGG: Bigger companies want to hold on to what they have as opposed to going after new groudn.

TY: People who never come to your site, people come once a month, once a week, and addicts, every day. Most of our customers come once a month. Makes bad economic sense to have a store if users can’t get to it.

GREGG: Gary, talk a little about dealing with copyrighted material in China.

GARY: It’s complicated issue, never easy. Few things make it easier in China for distributors, first content owners are not major media companies, they are scattered about, 50 major TV stations and all government owned. The most compelling thing for them is not generate revenue, but build up influence. For some reason, American content doesn’t even make up 1 percent of content viewed on his site. Asian content producers are more open-minded. Huge pirated DVD market, and no syndication, shows are free once broadcast on TV channels. We are an online distribution channel. So the content is always there for users. Very simple rev share.

KEVIN: On Piracy. A lot of concern, 25,000 Adult Swim clips a day posted to YouTube. YouTube trying to contain that with new systems. On the news site, very focused on UGC, launched I-Report, becoming a compelling source of breaking news.

TY: Plenty people fighting piracy. Quincy at CBS has a smart strategy, make it available everywhere. Led Zeppelin, by not making stuff available is saying ‘Steal it.’ The best antidote is making stuff available.

AUDIENCE QUESTION: How do you get big brands comfortable with UGC programming?

Prom Queen get notes from Brands?

DOUG: Did do product integration, but Vuguru handled most of that, we did it ourselved, tried to work as many Fiji bottles into the frame as much as possible. The requirements were very specific about how long a brand would be on-screen, etc. Can’t just translate feature film prod placement to web because web shows only 2-3 mins.

GARY: pre-rolls has not impacted viewing.

AUDIENCE QUESTION: When do Chinese people watch online video?

GARY: Very similar to USA, lunch break, when closing, 8-11 pm.