NTV Live Panel: New Studios and Talent Agencies

Moderator: Kent Nichols, Ask A Ninja.

Panelists: Josh Felser, Crackle; Jim Louderback, Revision3; Dina Kaplan blip.tv; Herb Scannell, Next New Networks; Michael Wayne, DECA.


This panel discussion will end with a vote and already the panelists are offering to buy votes. Cold, hard cash is exchanging hands on the stage this very moment. To have your vote purchased, find Dina Kaplan of Blip.tv after the panel.

Nichols: Why should creative agents sign with you?

Louderback jumped right in, touting Revision 3’s coveted 18-35 male demographic. “It’s hard to be creative in a box,” Louderback explained. “You’re basically saying you want people in your box. You want people very close to you,” Nichols countered. “It’s a real benefit,” Louderback answered. “We’re in the process in building a real HD studio.

Making online video isn’t simply carrying a camera and pointing it around, Wayne said. “First and foremost we look for talent. People who have developed an audience online. We look for high profile bloggers.” Wayne mentioned that DECA has signed a deal with Alex Albrecht of Rev3’s popular Diggnation show. “Is that why you’re sitting at the other end of the table from Revision 3?” Nichols asked.

“The talent that can writer, shoot, and edit the content will be the ones who define the space,” Scannell said. “It won’t be people coming in from MTV,” he added, taking a dig at his former employer.

Felser described the financial side of Crackle saying that they go out to find existing shows and help develop and fund new properties. The development deal Crackle runs is $15k and they have been paying 5k to 10k per episode.

Nichols, complimenting Ms. Kaplan’s smile, wants to know what she’s doing for him now. Kaplan responded with an announcement involving “the guy to my left.” “The guy who got teabagged by Ditka earlier?” Nichols pondered. [CORRECTION: In the fury that is live-blogging, I misheard what Mr. Nichols said. He, in fact, did NOT say “teabagged by Ditka.” Instead, he said “teabagged by DECA,” in reference to DECA signing a deal with Revision 3’s star, Alex Albrecht. NewTeeVee regrets the error. However, knowing the Ask A Ninja guys it is not at all absurd to think they’d make a non sequitor about former Bears coach great Michael Keller Ditka, Jr. teabagging an unwitting fool. There’s a mental image for you.] Kaplan shined here lovely smile and announced that Blip.tv and Rev3 are partnering to promote the top shows on the two platforms. “As of today we’re starting with Web Drifter which will be promoted on Geek Entertainment TV.” The promotions will include a huge number of shows on both networks. Louderback added saying that the best way you can use and promote a popular show is to link it to other great shows.

“We’re champions of a new talent that’s coming of age,” Scannell said. Kaplan and Scannell extolled the importance rewarding talent to avoid a situation like that in Hollywood now with the writer’s strike.

“At what point do you start owning small children?” Nichols inquired of Felser’s Crackle. “While you may mock it, at least two-thirds of our creators all want that TV deal.” But Nichols pressed him and asked how many deals they’ve handed out. Felser said they hand out three deals a quarter but since the program just started in July they have yet to cement any deals. Felser declined to comment on how much the top earner on Crackle is making. “Wow, they are making crap,” Nichols mocked. “No development deal for you,” Felser threatened.

“I think brands provide advertisers with surety, not security,” Scannell said. “We’re super distributed and we want to be where the viewers. But if you want a deeper experience come to the site.” Louderback added “It’s more than just video, it’s a content experience.”

The panel reveled in online video’s ability to be far more spontaneous and “live” than TV is. Real questions from real viewers influencing actual episodes is exciting and proving that there is a thirst for participatory entertainment. “It’s all about building community around things that people are passionate about,” Louderback said.

Audience questions:

What are your revenue sharing models?

  • “It’s kind of THE question,” Kaplan responded. Blip.tv is 50/50 straight up.
  • Crackle is now sharing a percent of gross.
  • “We don’t share revenue,” Wayne of DECA said flatly. “Why do you hate creators?” Nichols joked. “People are getting equity in an LLC. We actually call ourselves a studio and use the studio model. It’s got its own equity structure.”

What will happen in the wake of the writer’s strike?

  • “I don’t think it’s a revolution that will suddenly validate the internet in a big way. I don’t think you’ll see a flood of talent running and thinking they can do it all themselves,” Scannell answered.
  • Felser speculated that the strike will do more to galvanize the writers who are already out of work to move to the internet to get work.
  • “it should probably be the studios and the writers against the internet. The internet is the disruptive force here,” ex-Sony employee Wayne commented.

Talent vote