Video on the Net was an outstanding conference. Not only were the speakers thought leaders in their fields, there was an engaging mix of speakers ranging from executives at major media companies to independent show producers. The conference sessions were fast paced, energized, and professional in every regard. Something I always appreciate: there were ample opportunities for business networking. I’m looking forward to attending Video on the Net in Boston this fall.
Here is a round up of the most interesting things I heard and learned from the presentations at VON2007.
— Long time video blogger Steve Garfield says that soon we’ll all be able to broadcast video live from the street, with WiFi enabled mobile devices, faster upload speeds and integrated tools. Garfield described how he produced an online video show entirely with a pre-release Nokia N95 cell phone. In just 15 minutes during a train ride, he shot video, edited, inserted credits and added a music track. When he got to a WiFi point, he was able to upload the video to his blog. Cool stuff!
Watch Steve’s video, “Recorded and edited on a train with an N95”
— Bob Bowman, CEO of Major League Baseball Advanced Media says that when MLBAM first got started streaming video of live baseball games, all were abysmal failures – not once did it work right all game. “Streaming live stuff is totally different than video on demand,” Bowman said. Bowman adds: your content has to be real and authentic, or it won’t last. He suggests providing an interactive experience, not doing flat video. Finally, Bowman made the following bold statement: “Convergence, it’s not happening.” According to Bowman, consumers won’t consume on their cell phones the same content they want to consume on their TV’s. You have to produce different content for each platform, TV, the PC and mobile, even if it is for the same consumer.
— Justin Kownacki, director of the online episodic show “Something to Be Desired,” has produced 100 episodes since November 2003 on a shoestring budget of $200 per week through an approach he calls “Open Source TV production”. How does he do it? The 25 person cast volunteers for the show, keeping production costs ultra low.
— Albert Cheng, vice president, digital media, Disney-ABC Television Group, says that his company is redefining the network as “a content programming service that connects fans to their shows.” According to Cheng, 54% watch online because they missed an episode or didn’t program their PVR; 34% are fans of the show who want to watch the episode again; a very large percentage watch the entire episode; and greater than 80% say they have a positive experience and would recommend to a friend. Cheng says consumers respond very favorably to ads that are very interactive and highly relevant (in contrast to 30 second ads). A cool idea coming out in a few months: when you pause the video from Disney-ABC Television, you’ll see a static billboard with a brand message for a sponsor.
— Daniel Scheinman, senior vice president and GM, Cisco Media Solutions Group, says we’ll see an explosion of content that will make it hard to find content. The central question of our age, according to Scheinman: how do we enable content to find you?
Story continues in extended entry…
— Don Loeb, vice president at Feedburner.com, says that iTunes has a 50% market share in podcasts, but that Apple’s share is declining. “Apple iTunes isn’t necessarily getting smaller, the web is getting larger,” Loeb said.
— Bernie Gershon, senior vice president/GM, Disney / ABC Television, Digital Media Group says that not too long ago, TV companies thought they controlled the viewing experience. Now the viewer controls the experience. A big shift. He also says that for ABC’s live online broadcasts with appointment viewing, the majority of viewing is on-demand. Big events will drive live viewership, otherwise we’re moving to an in-demand world where convenience of watching on your own time is the driver. Extra credit: Bernie had the best sense of humor of all speakers!
— Brent Weinstein, head of digital media, United Talent Agency, says that as online video via TV takes hold, we’ll see an increase in quality in narrative and production value – consumers will demand it.
— Sarah Harden, senior vice president, business development for FOX, says it’s all about cross platform. According to Harden, more than 50% of her company’s cable ad sales have cross platform components. That approach offers the best of both worlds: reach from linear TV and measurability and targetability that companies online offer.
— Jim Wuthrich, senior vice president at Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, says that his company is # 1 in market share for DVD titles. Beyond the top 1300 of their 6600 films, though, the economics of DVD don’t make sense. Now, with the unlimited shelf space of digital distribution, it makes sense to go to the rest of the 6600 films. A key issue: how do consumers find what they want?
— Erick Hachenburg, CEO of Metacafe, says advertisers follow audience — eventually. And that tech races ahead of the advertising community, with the advertising community catching up.
— Dina Kaplan, founder and CEO of blip.tv, says 100K people watch zefrank — thanks in part to the close connection zefrank has with his audience. Bottom line, he has a community that adores him. Kaplan also says that today we define video by where we can watch it, with a clear hierarchy: TV shows are thought as better than internet video; the internet has more choice. But all this is set to change as internet video becomes available on your television. “Videos” will become just videos, not “videos on TV or videos on the internet”. According to Kaplan, the future is all about the shows, with the playing field leveling. Bonus: Kaplan shared how Amanda Congdon produced an integrated advertisement for Dove – which is great for the advertiser because show creators are close to their audiences, and the host is endorsing the brand personally.
— Jeremy Allaire, founder and CEO of Brightcove, talked about the importance of taking care of the content creator first and foremost.
— Dmitry Shapiro, CEO of Veoh, says the internet can democratize video production. More and more resources are available to internet producers. This medium is different than TV, and the economics are different. TV is about entertainment, story telling and production value, while the internet is about communicating.
— Robert Petty, CEO of ROO, says users will tell us what they want to watch – and our job is to give them more of that. He observes that at the moment, online video is of a relatively lower production quality and it doesn’t look as good on a large plasma TV.
— Matt Sanchez, president and CEO of VideoEgg, says the notion of a “channel” is changing. “The channel is being programmed by you and your friends, Sanchez said.
— Josh Goldman, of Akimbo Systems, says with every media, when you have a decentralized event, you get a huge amount of new talent emerging. And many people make the shift from amateur to professional. For example, some bloggers have become journalists; and some video bloggers have become television personalities (for example, Amanda Congdon).
— Tara Maitra, vice president and GM at TiVo is exploring ideas for the kind of advertising a consumer would choose not to fast forward.
— Paul Palumbo, research director and founder of AccuStream iMedia Research, advise weaving in discovery and personality into online video. Just having a large library of content isn’t enough.
— Shelly Palmer, managing partner, Advanced Media Ventures Group (who is one of the best public speakers I’ve seen in a while) says production is becoming democratized, as is distribution. What’s not democratized? Promotion. According to Palmer, the largest advertiser on TV is… TV, with 20-25% of the ads you see promoting TV and TV viewing. Palmer also notes that we live in a world in which the meta data is more important than the data.
— Todd Herman, general manager, media strategy at MSN says consumers are choosing control over content quality. Herman asks: “What does this say about our industry?” Herman urges us to develop our industry’s equivalent of the spreadsheet application which was the “killer app” for the PC.