YouTube is Hot, But Watch Out for Over the Top

Welcome WVFF Guest Blogger
Jim Louderback

dead-tvSure, you think the TV is dead. But it’s not. The act of lazing about in front of a big screen TV watching, laughing and enjoying video content is going to be even bigger than ever. But here’s the rub. It’ll be less about cable and broadcast, and much more about internet video.

It boils down to this: If you’re not creating video with the big screen in mind, you’re going to miss one of the biggest developments in 2010.

We’ve already seen great success with Revision3‘s content on Roku; the tiny box that streams Netflix, baseball, Amazon, and now us. Along with Twitter, Pandora, Flickr and more all on the big screen.

We at Revision3 were up nearly 15% in the first two weeks that our channel launched – and that was during the traditional down weeks of Thanksgiving.

Next year TV will get smart.

Vizio, the biggest TV vendor in the US, will bring real connectivity to every TV it sells that’s larger than 45 inches. Many other TVs will do the same.

Boxee’s box will ship.

Cable set top boxes will connect to web video.

It’s a brand new outlet and it can’t be ignored.

youtube-tvUnfortunately, YouTube seems to be asleep at the wheel. I asked them recently if they were going to play in over the top, they said they prefer to be browser-based rather than having separate interfaces. Sure, having multiple and separate interfaces can be tough, but their approach is wrong. Consider mobile – websites are terrible on that screen. The same goes for the big screen at 10 feet away.

But, let’s imagine I was led to speculation with my YouTube contacts, perhaps they were being… coy. We could very well find Android or Chrome jumping in and powering TVs by 2011.

We’ll see…

In the mean time, you can do a few things to ensure you don’t miss the boat in 2010.

First, produce and distribute in HD. If and when YouTube is available on the big screen, the better looking videos will win. Quality will always be more important in this world.

Second, think about an alternate channel for over the top. Try hooking up with Xbox, glom onto Roku with Mediafly or Blip.TV.

Most importantly, find ways to get your stuff into that world.

Oh, and keep an eye on Revision3 in early January. We’ll be covering the heck out of the annual Consumer Electronic Show, posting on our site, and on our popular YouTube Channel. We’ll be bringing you the latest over the top devices and provide commentary on how this brave new world of internet video is evolving.

Jim Louderback
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The Destruction of Television

WVFF Guest Blogger
Hank Green

There seem to be two camps on this debate. One half says that the internet is going to kill television, the other says that the internet is going to make television much better and even more profitable. It seems that we’ve learned nothing from centuries of media outlets becoming less relevant.

Radio didn’t kill the stage, television didn’t kill radio, and the internet didn’t kill newspapers. Old media doesn’t die, it just become less relevant. I learned that from Jon Webber, owner of and one of my favorite professors, before I even knew what YouTube was.

It’s amazing how well the TV industry has ignored the lessons of music and newspapers. The simple fact is, everyone now has access to the equipment and distribution channels that were so unattainable just five years ago.

What’s really going to hurt television is the creation of a long-tail in video content. People will be able to watch whatever they want whenever they want and just as newspapers found out, people will produce that long-tail content without training, without limits, and without compensation. The crazy thing is, people will watch.

The result, more videos will be watched than ever before, but less money will be made than ever before. People will tolerate fewer advertisements, content creators will build huge empires in the minds of their audiences while working within revenue streams that wouldn’t pay the catering budget of a TV show.

Television revenues are going to shrink massively, however, they will remain much larger than anything the internet has to offer. Yet, in the minds of consumers, the war will appear to been won by the internet and television will have been destroyed. We will re-define our relationships with video content, yes, but, television won’t disappear, it will just become less relevant.


Find more of Hank’s wisdom on the web @

Parody of Billy Bob Thorton’s Radio Flip-Out

I was making $16,000 a year for the Georgetown Courier, when our photographer got news that Pierce Brosnan was shooting Live Wire. The determined photographer convinced the doorman at the Watergate to ask Brosnan if he’d let her take his picture. Then she asked if I wanted to cover the story. What a break! Brosnan’s handlers told me NOT to ask about James Bond, however. At the time, Brosnan’s Remington Steele contract forbid him from being the next Bond, and that was a touchy subject.

How do you think I opened the interview? How can you NOT ask about something so important to him? I did it delicately by asking him why it was so important as to not be discussed. And then he spilled the beans.

I’m reminded of that story when I watched the Billy Bob Thorton video, where his handlers must have insisted to the show’s producers that the topic of Thorton’s film career not come up. How can it NOT come up? Really? Are you now a rock star only, Billy Bob, in your post Angelena days?

But really, should Billy Bob Thorton be blamed for flipping out on Canadian Interviewer (QVT/CBC Radio) Jian Ghomeshi?

No way. It’s the interviewer’s fault. Here’s my experience with the SAME guy (Ghomeshi) last year. He made me so mad I was fixin to kill him with this lawnmower blade. Hmmm.

Footage used with permission by QVT and CRC Radio (I called their media team on commute home and spent hours more than you might think on this stupid video. The tension builds up around 6 minutes in the actual clip:…

Vloggers To Get Prime-Time Reality Show?

Do you vlog? Then YOU might be dull enough for television. 

TV Diaries, a sparse but new blog, claims to be building a show with The Conlin Company, who is behind such reality-hits as “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Nanny 911.”

Says this post: We’re seeking Emotional Exhibitionists who have nothing to hide. If you can entertain, shock, charm, amuse or amaze an audience with a personal, intimate, no-holds-barred look at your intriguing life, we want to hear from you!

But don’t just read about it. Watch this captivating video, where a duo calls out for all “vee-loggers.” Not vloggers. Vee-loggers. Or watch this snappy video for more details.

I’m already preparing for the thrill of watching vloggers on television.

My Fake Writers Staff

Last night I was discussing with Cory (mrsafety) the concept of doing a video for the audience or yourself. We agreed that an enduring motive was making videos that pleased ourselves. But it’s worth noting that many of my favorite Nalts videos never went far — like this video below with about 12,000 views after a year.

I’m not sure if I ever revealed the true backstory of these videos (there were 8 in this playlist, and some were a bit long but packed with quirky moments). A year ago I was working with NYC WLNY’s Flix55 as the producer and host of “Quick Flix,” a television show that would feature the best viral videos and be syndicated nationally. The station’s owners contacted me when they saw this video where I pitched the idea of a TV show packed with online-video favorites. The show and the website never materialized, but in the process I made several trips to the television station to cast a co-host, script the concept, videotape pilots and on-board a group of college kids that would be campus liaisons to promote the site and recruit talent.

Even though the show never saw light of day, the interns at Flix55 — who played my fake writers — were a blast. We kept having to kill cast members because they’d go back to school or leave. The 8 videos were never scripted, and usually based on a spontanious idea and improvization. Here’s my favorite because it’s funny and tragic.

Should You Buy an AppleTV? Only if You’re an iTunes and YouTube Junkie

appletv review cheap amazonI’ve had an AppleTV for a while, and I was amused by New Media Minute‘s video report that is almost entirely positive on the AppleTV except for some criticism of the the manual search process (source: webvideoreport).

Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoy my AppleTV (Amazon carries the 40GB for $224, 160GB for $324… yes I put in an affiliate link, so sue me). But I only started using it after it was a desk ornament for months.

The bottom line is that if you’re an avid iTunes user (music and movies) and a YouTube junkie, you’ll wonder how you survived without this puppy. If not, you may want to buy a used one (not too less expensive), or wait for a future version which will presumably offer more functionality, content and certainly more storage and speed.

What I dig:

  1. tv in bedGroovin’ with the concept of a device that feeds on existing broadband without another annoying monthly charge. It gives me access to my downstairs Mac via my bedroom television! My wife is not as excited that I’m watching my favorite YouTubers before dozing off.
  2. I find the interface quite elegant (albeit spartan), and a recent redesign improved it and addressed some of my previous criticisms. I chew the remote, though, so I’d like one that was a little more sturdy.
  3. I love laying down while I catch up on YouTube videos, but I mostly resign to surfing the “highest rated” section because it’s so much easier than digging into my favorite creators through the clunky account options. The “top rated” section of YouTube is unfortunately also loaded with a lot of music videos that are simply ads for cell phone ringers, and the animated parodies seem to represent 50% of the top 70 list (oddly it doesn’t list the top 100).

Here’s what AppleTV needs to do before I’d recommend it for broader use…

  1. Make it easier to synch. I’m fairly computer literate but it doesn’t seem to pick up a lot of my media.
  2. Start the clock on my rentals when I start the movie. Not when I rent it.
  3. Improve the selection of movies for sale (it’s as robust as that of a fish & bait store in a small Southern town). I was at a lousy hotel in Nashville Saturday night, and the pay-per-view selection was dramatically better. Mac: Integrate with Netflix or Blockbuster and you’ll have a gem (okay- tough one to work out, but a girl can dream).
  4. YouTube via AppleTV needs a lot of work… four key considerations:

youtube on appletv

  • Allow me subscribe to more than a dozen or so creators. Show me their videos in thumbnails, and sort them by most recent. Keep these populated without as many errors (it’s buggy). To track my favorite creators I needed to set up a new account called appletvofnalts. I’m missing a lot of my favorite creators unfortunately.
  • I’d like to comment. I’m not crazy about the remote/keyboard, but I’d like the option. And I’d like to enlarge descriptions of videos so I can read them without sitting up.
  • Give the search functionality (and “related videos”) the same juice that YouTube gives it on the site. It appears these features are “watered down” for AppleTV.
  • When I find a good creator I want to subscribe. I can’t, so I end up favoriting the video in hopes I’ll remember to subscribe when I’m at my desktop.

AppleTV won’t yet replace your DVR or your cable TV, but it’s a nice alternative when you’re sick of the overcomplicated and slow Verizon Fios media box that doesn’t want to play any of the shows you recorded on the media base that’s downstairs because the poor man’s unit upstairs can’t handle HDTV. I love the access to YouTube, which represents about 80 percent of my use (followed by an occasional movie or television show).

Please take this seriously, Mac. There are a lot of us that want to see this model proliferate, and we’re ready to promote it to our YouTube audiences (for a modest price, naturally… we can’t live on food alone). More users means more content, and I look forward to being able to share recommendations and preferences with friends.

The Devil is in the Device: How We’ll Consume Online-Video Via BoobTube in 2008

old_tv_set_rc.jpgI’m going out on a limb here, but I predict that independent web-to-tv boxes will be (albiet perhaps temporary) an inevitable part of the pending collision between our television sets and Internet. We’re past that debate about whether TV or online-video will prevail. There will be a hybrid model, and quite frankly I can’t wait to consume my online-videos with the ease of TiVo surfing. I just don’t watch television anymore and the cable and telcom providers have made that an easy withdrawal.

Months ago, I would have bet that cable and telcom monoliths could successfully dominate this space with their own connectivity, equipment, and customer base. But Verizon’s latest release of its Fios TV video interface has convinced me of otherwise. It’s rather hopeless, and we should expect nothing more.
Despite continued investments by cable (Comcast) and telcom (Verizon) providers — which includes fiber and expensive capital —  they’re going to be dissintermediated in the short term. Sure they’re winning customers with competitive bundled deals for cable, phone and television. And they have a built advantage because we want a turnkey solution and it’s hard to bypass them unless you want a satellite. But they’re big, slow, and focused more on securing their market position than innovating.

Fios TV SucksWhile the bundling (phone, TV and internet access) is quite economically tempting, the television ‘user experience’ is what real-estate agents call functional obsolescence– it’s a deal breaker. For the past year I’ve suffered through Verizon’s slow, counter-intuitive, buggy and frustrating television interface and would have canceled long ago but for my wife and kids’ desire to watch news and children shows. A few weeks ago, Verizon rolled out an entirely new interface, which is prettier but almost as convoluted. Comcast, last I checked, wasn’t much better. I miss my delightful, buttery TiVo experience, and have two TiVo units depreciating because I can’t figure out how to get them to play nicely with the Fios-mandated Motorolas. And I’m not willing or able to pay a third recurring fee: a TiVo service fee, in addition to my monthly TV bill and rental equipment toll. If only I could just dump the Motorola and pay Fios a cable fee alone.

You see, Fios TV forces me to rent a Motorola media box (actually, I could rent a digital converter, but that doesn’t cost much less per month). I rent two of these stupid units (living room and bed room) and they communicate with each other like Hollywood stars in their 3rd month of marriage.

I expect a cable bill. But a monthly “rental toll” for a mandated unit is reminiscent of Ma-Bell charging $5 a month to my grandparents for a “model T”-like rotary phone (which everyone seems to overlook until the parents die, someone has to clean up the estate, and the children discover they’ve paid thousands in years of renting a phone that could have cost $2.99 at Walmart).

appletv.jpgMeanwhile, I almost tossed my AppleTV months ago, but have recently been spending a lot more time using it. It cost about $300, there’s no recurring fee, and the interface is getting better. I can enjoy any video I download or import as an MP4 (and my handy VisualHub takes care of the conversions for videos I download elsewhere). More importantly, it’s how I’m beginning to consume a lot of my YouTube videos.

On the negative side, iTunes has its share of limitations: a paltry video-purchase selection via the iTunes store, a ridiculous rental service I won’t soon use again (after a “Live Free or Die Hard” expired before I ever started watching it), and this baffling confusion of trying to synch media across various iPods and Mac accounts.

And frankly, I’m quite sick of being deprived by Mac of sharing or viewing my purchased videos and movies– legally, across my own digitalia.

ant farmThat makes me so angry, I’ve starting to resort to getting movies via other mischievous means. Last night I even fell for a Google text ad that boasted a $35 one-time “free movie downloads for life” scam. For my impossible-to-refund fee, I received a special log-in website, password and instructions… which basically provided me a link to LimeWire (a free p2p tool). Caveat emptor I suppose. I was reminded of when, at the age of 9, I bought a “remote-control ghost: flies as high as 100 feet” from a comic book ad. Eight weeks later I received a white plastic bag, a balloon, and 100 feet of string. Even Sea Monkeys and the Ant Farm were better deals.

But something promising occurred quietly in the past week. AppleTV pushed out an upgrade, and now my YouTube viewing is slightly closer to the experience of watching videos via directly.

Initially, YouTube viewing via AppleTV provided a fraction of the experience permitted on YouTube. I couldn’t even look at my subscriptions or sort recent videos by creator. This limited YouTube interface is part of the reason I dumped my iPhone after two weeks (AT&T’s poor connectivity was another reason). But now I can at least go beyond watching the top YouTube videos of the day. I can view a random subset of my subscriptions (for odd reasons, they only let me peer into my first dozen or so, which is a bit constraining when you’ve subscribed to 800 people).

If you’re not a YouTube addict, the AppleTV makes less sense, and Apple won’t soon penetrate the market with these units unless they improve the interface further, renegotiate failed content deals and partner with electronic manufacturers or bring down the unit price.

So what’s ahead in 2008?

  1. First, AppleTV needs to start embedding ads. As a creator, I’m not getting profiting from viewers using AppleTV and neither is Apple or YouTube yet. If Apple wants to leverage near ubiquitous high bandwidth, thereby circumventing or coexisting with cable/phone providers, it’s going to have to find an ad-supported model first.
  2. Watch for similar boxes that are inexpensive and provide access to online-video via television. I still haven’t opened my free Sling Box so maybe that’s a step in the right direction?
  3. If the programmers and networks (CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, etc.) were more organized, they’d cooperate to build a model that could dissintermedia cable and phone monopolies (or at least develop a media-friendly model that offsets the power of these dominatrix-like “last mile” providers. But that’s unlikely because the media companies hate each other, and monopoly legislation would hamper it.
  4. Instead, watch for a startup (whatever happened to Joost?) that creates something similar to the AppleTV experience: elegant, content rich, ad supported and no mandated monthly fee initially. They’ll share ad revenue with media companies or amateurs and create inventory that piques the interest of advertising networks.
  5. Once a few of these independent boxed units establish a base, they can begin charging a modest monthly fee. Heck, I’d pay AppleTV a few bucks a month just to ensure I can view YouTube without the current restrictions. How am I to choose between Lemonette, Renetto
  6. Naturally, the electronic manufacturers are trying to squeeze into this space, but it’s not a play built for either a phone company or consumer-product electronic manufacturer. The interim winner will be one that — ala Apple with its recent offerings — puts the user experience above all else.
  7. There are probably other players creeping into this spaces of which I’m not even aware. Know of any?

Research About Online-Video Viewing

More research about online-video and television viewing. This Harris study tells us so much and yet so little. What I was hoping (based on the lead) is that it would talk about how online-video is cannibalizing, if at all, television viewing. Certainly for me I spend far more time watching video on my monitor than my overpriced HDTV.

  • More television viewers are turning to the Internet to watch videos, films and TV episodes, according to a new survey.
  • Approximately 65 percent of the 2,455 U.S. adults surveyed by Harris Interactive said they have watched a video on YouTube, compared to 42 percent during the same time last year. More than 42 percent of YouTube viewers said they visit the site frequently, up from 33 percent last year.
  • Apart from YouTube, which most people favored because they felt it had almost every video they could find, 43 percent said they have watched a video on a TV network Web site, followed by 35 percent on news sites and less than 30 percent on search engines such as Yahoo and Google.
  • Online viewers said they would watch more TV episodes and full-length movies if more were available. There was less interest in viewing more amateur or user-generated videos, news and sports, according to the survey.

Via Reuters. By Claire Sibonney; Editing by Patricia Reaney.