Just yesterday, it was Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer that signed a deal with YouTube, allowing the video site to run full-length versions of movies (although the initial selection was somewhat less than stellar). Today, the site announced a deal with Freemantle Productions, the creators of the American Idol reality-show franchise, that will see the production company create a channel for all of its existing shows, but also a new channel for exclusive content that it will create specifically for YouTube.
Soon, YouTube will be carrying ad-supported TV shows from CBS, clips from LionsGate movies with pre-rolls and post-rolls, full-length movies from MGM and exclusive content from one of the world’s leading reality-show producers. Not bad for a site that started with video clips of funny cats and skateboard pratfalls, and is still considered by some to be a kind of trailer-park ghetto of video (yes, Mark Cuban, we’re looking at you). With Hulu.com adding plenty of mainstream content too, the competition in online video definitely seems to be heating up.
Just found out via Adam Ostrow at Mashable that Revision3 — the Web TV venture from the Digg boys, Kevin Rose and Jay Adelson — has laid off several people and shut down the filming of a few shows, including Internet Superstar with Martin Sargent and PopSiren with Sarah Lane. Interestingly enough, the hosts of both shows used to work on G4 and TechTV, the shows that Kevin Rose got his start on as a fresh-faced young geek (okay, he’s still a fresh-faced young geek, but you get my point). Sarah Lane is also the director of production for Revision3, according to her bio. There have been other executive layoffs as well apparently.
In what has to be a bandwidth cost-related move, Revision3 is also stopping distribution of two shows, including social-media guru Gary Vaynerchuk’s popular Wine Library. In a blog post about the moves, CEO Jim Louderback says that PopSiren and Internet Superstar “had great promise, but never really found their audience.” The company is also stopping production of a long-running show called Pixel Perfect, which was apparently an instructional program about using Photoshop. Some of the shutdowns have predictably had spinoff effects, as Liz Gannes describes at NewTeeVee.
According to a report at Broadcasting & Cable, the tall foreheads at Saturday Night Live — including Canadian-born creator Lorne “Dr. Evil” Michaels — are in talks with NBC about setting up a standalone site for the show, one that would feature clips as well as out-takes, video of rehearsals and so on. This seems like such a no-brainer that it’s hard to understand why it hasn’t happened already. There are clips on Hulu (which I would embed here, if it weren’t for the fact that they aren’t available outside of the U.S.), but the show could be doing so much more with its content.
Apparently the audience that Tina Fey’s impersonation of vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has been drawing has caused more than a few jaws to drop at NBC. According to MediaPost, clips of Fey doing her thing have pulled in twice as many viewers as watched the originals on NBC, which according to a comment from TVbythenumbers at Silicon Alley Insider is almost unheard of. Obviously, those numbers are getting a boost from the election and the heightened awareness of the topic, but there’s also a feedback loop effect that SNL is benefiting from.
My friend Om Malik says that he has it on good authority that Joost — the much-hyped P2P online video startup run by the founders of Skype and Kazaa — is planning to kill its desktop client. This news was likely met in many quarters by a resounding cry of “What took so long?” Although the first few iterations of Joost’s client showed some promise, the app soon became (in my view at least) a bloated front-end to a lacklustre service. There were hints of some interesting features, such as the semi-transparent live chat window that you could bring up while watching a show, but too few of them were realized.
Predictably enough, NBC head honcho Jeff Zucker — the guy who previously ranted about how he’d rather have TV dollars than a few measly “digital pennies” — is crowing about how the massive viewership numbers for the Phelps… er, Olympic Games illustrate the dominance of network television and the relative irrelevance of the Interweb when it comes to video. After all, don’t the numbers show that 97 per cent of all Olympic content-watching took place on the tube? (Let’s leave aside the fact that watching anything online at NBC requires you to use Microsoft’s Silverlight, which only works on Windows). So the Internet, in other words, is nothing but a rounding error.
It’s natural enough that Zucker would put things in that perspective. After all, his salary comes from network television advertising, of which he just finished pulling in a billion dollars worth, so it’s understandable that he would be a little smug. But I think Jeff would be wise to remember one thing: the Olympics aren’t like regular television. They come along once every four years, and they are a massive social phenomenon unlike almost anything else that you can think of when it comes to TV viewing, as Cory Bergman at Lost Remote also points out.