Agility: Web Studio Take Two

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Agility Studios launches an online video studio today, led by execs from LivePlanet, FreemantleMedia and RealNetworks (s rnwk). The company aims to offer development, financing, distribution, sponsorship and more to projects made with stars who have established themselves either on the web or more traditionally. Its first project should come online in the next couple of months.

The Los Angeles-based company is to be a pure-play studio. Its philosophy: “Content should be made for the platform in which it’s going to be distributed,” said CEO Scott Ehrlich. There needs to be something about the property that makes it uniquely well-suited to the the Internet.” In a move to avoid conflicts of interests that others have fallen into by controlling both content creation and distribution, however, Agility won’t be building a video portal.

Agility has raised “significant” funding from Mantucket Capital, said Ehrlich, who added that the arrangement involves access to more capital should it be necessary.

The company’s aim is to make “multiplatform” shows that are “quality but with economics that work,” said Chief Creative Officer Keith Quinn. On the revenue side, Agility has brought in Shannon Pruitt to oversee sponsorship and integrated marketing, areas in which she gained some $100 million worth of experience as part of her previous work on shows like American Idol.

Agility aims to work with professional talent, aligning it with other Hollywood-type digital studios like 60Frames and MRC. Quinn actually mentioned Seth MacFarlane’s MRC deal as something Agility would like to emulate. He also mentioned trying to work with “bootstrapped” stars like Felicia Day.

Despite the harsh economic climate, I think it’s good timing for a second generation of new media studios to come out and take advantage of knowing the first generation’s errors and successes.

We asked Quinn if he thinks there are real opportunities these days to make a career online, or if the web was still essentially a stepping stone.

“If Martha Stewart had started her thing today, she might have put all sorts of segments online, and built up her personal brand,” he said. “We’re starting ideas online and in new media because we think that’s where the opportunity and the leverage is. And after that we will expand, or maybe we will stay in new media.”

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gordonmattey

These guys need to really focus on distribution. Sure the content has to be good, that’s the price of entry Online.

Finding an audience and a fan base is critical.

It’s not clear to me what Agility will do differently.

I’m not sure what conflicts they see with content and distribution by hosting their own video portal.

Of course they want to distribute their content as widely as possible, but to rely on each video platform for your success seems a little short sighted. That’s what most video producers do today. They hope youtube, or blip or joost or whatever will invest in them by giving them preferential placement on the home page, or by marketing their show on the site.

Hope isn’t a strategy.

Why not create a video portal for your video? To innovate new video and interactive media.

Why create a portal to take ownership of your revenue stream? To innovate new advertising media.

Why not create multiple video portals for your video? If each show isn’t related, then why host it all on one site like 60frames and others do. Nextnewnetworks does this well.

Why not aggregate similar and relevant video from other [web] studios on the portals? Yes, aggregate your competition on your own site. It’s happening already on youtube and hulu, why not take control of it and provide a richer and deeper experience for the fans.

Use the portals as a way to aggregate demand (for you and others) and give people an opportunity to discover new video while at the same time helping your competition to maximise their engagement and to support the industry with new advertising models.

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