Babelgum said today it’s creating a 10 million euro ($15.4 million) fund to invest in new (and exclusive) original content. “We are going down the road of transforming into a digital media studio,” Babelgum CEO Valerio Zingarelli told Variety. Though it’s clearly not a bad idea to create your own content, this is the second time Babelgum has been on the right train, but the wrong track.
“Digital media studio” is a far cry from “Internet P2P TV service,” but not entirely surprising given that Babelgum has never really caught on with mainstream users and it lost two execs towards the end of last year. With its deep pockets, Babelgum can afford to weather a few storms, but as someone who used to sign and help develop original web content, I believe this initiative has some serious flaws.
First is the type of content the company wants to fund: documentaries and shorts up to 15 minutes in length, with the possibility of creating longer-form docs. Why create content you’ll just have to break into bite-sized chunks for Internet audiences? Plus, Babelgum wants to make environmental preservation an area of focus (er, sorry Earth2Tech, but yawn). Shorts play better in Europe than they do in the U.S., so Babelgum could squeeze a few extra bucks out of the content by licensing them to TV stations and mobile. But if Babelgum wants to make it big in the U.S., those shorts had better be hilarious, or part of the most awesomest online series of all time.
Second, the company is making the content exclusive to Babelgum, so you’ll have to download the service in order to watch them. If Babelgum wants to be a digital media studio, it needs to free the content so people can see it, not keep it hidden on a proprietary service.