NTV Predictions: Online Video Stars


Among the questions we’ve asked our panel of experts was this one: Which online video star do you think will make it big in 2008?

Selections from their responses are below. 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.

jenkins.jpgHenry Jenkins, director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program and Peter de Florez Professor of Humanities (media and popular culture academic):

“Thinking of online video in terms of a star system may be the wrong way to think about the ways that it will influence the larger cultural ecology. For one thing, people are turning to online video for things they are not and perhaps cannot see within the mass media. Fan researcher Catherine Tossenberger talks about fan-generated content as ‘unpublishable’ and for her, this is a very good thing. Fans, operating outside of the commercial mainstream, have the freedom to do things which would be prohibited [to] those working at the heart of a media franchise — explore new stories, adopt new aesthetics, offer alternative interpretations of characters, or just be bad in whatever sense of the word you want. And much of the online video content thrives because it is unpublishable in the mainstream but has strong appeal to particular niches and subcultures.

“It certainly constitutes a space where people can be bad and improve through criticism which means that it can expand the pipeline of new talent into the commercial media sector. It certainly functions as a petri dish where cultural experiments can take place and the mainstream can tap certain trends and styles that emerge there. Some of the people producing video do measure their success in terms of whether they break into commercial media — making movies as “calling cards” for the industry — and there will be a whole generation of filmmakers who got their start through these means. But there will be many more who are happy communicating within their subcultures and who measure their success in very different terms.”

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

“This is all so new that the definition of making it big is too vague
for a real answer. I think the people with talent in front of the
camera and behind the scenes, those with a true sense of
entrepreneurship, and those with smart business instincts will be the
ones who succeed in accomplishing their goals. You have to have a
real understanding of the creation, distribution, and business of
making content for the web in order to have any kind of strategy to
capitalize on opportunities.”

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

“The power of the internet is its ability to drive discovery and measurability. Predicting stars is the old-media model. We should let the wisdom of the masses dictate to us who the online video stars are rather than the other way around.”

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

HappySlip (Christine) and WhatTheBuckShow (Michael Buckley) will begin appearing regularly on television sets this year, and other performers (LisaNova) will make cameos. Unfortunately, the concept of an amateur moving mainstream via Internet video is not living up to expectations. The ladder to fame remains crowded, with rungs farther apart as you move up. The Hollywood machine can’t be underestimated, and though the cost structure isn’t sustainable it’s not going to change without a fight.”

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