When Revision3 launched in 2005, the company was among the first online video networks and production companies, navigating an uncharted vertical and calling now-defunct 60 Frames and ManiaTV early competitors. But it’s currently in its 8th year and with its recent acquisition by Discovery Communications, Revision3 has proved that it has not only staying power but also mass appeal.
In its earliest days, Revision3’s founders, Jay Adelson and David Prager envisioned creating a platform full of long-form content that could be downloaded on a cellphone. At the time, though, there was no bandwidth for high quality video. But as the technology started to grow, allowing for high-quality video downloads on mobile devices, Revision3 shifted their agenda and moved towards the more snackable, short-form content that was growing popular on iTunes. Soon, Revision3 was creating podcast videos over iTunes where they saw that consumption habits were shorter. The shift from long form to short form was a natural evolution for the company’s founders who saw more opportunities with shorter content.
“When we look at long form it’s less about length and more about set and setting,” says Jim Louderback, CEO of Revision3, “where are you and what’s your expectation? If you’re home on the couch, you’re ready for longer forms but if you’re in between meetings at the office, short is better.”
When the Great Recession hit in 2008, many online video companies, including 60 Frames and ManiaTV, didn’t survive another year. Times were lean for Revision3, too: they laid off a third of their staff and halted all new show development, instead focusing on shows that were already in production like geek-centric Systm and Revision3’s flagship program Diggnation. Focusing on existing content was a good strategy for the company and they came out of 2009 stronger than ever. They also shifted away from podcasting: By 2009, 80 percent of Revision3’s programming was hosted on YouTube.
But Revision3’s success brings forth a looming question: why did they make it while other online video companies closed up shop? Simply put: they were different. While other companies were focusing on replicating the television experience via computer, Revision3 saw an opportunity to edit the ways in which consumers expect to, well, consume.
“Too many companies at that time tried to be television and considered themselves TV but on the internet,” says Louderback, “Those models of TV might have worked now, but back then there just weren’t big enough audiences on the internet to become successful.”
There was also another component to Revision3’s success: real people. Unlike other production studios that focus on big names to draw in the audience (case in point: Electric Farm Entertainment’s colossal letdown and product placement vehicle, “Gemini Division” starring Rosario Dawson), Revision3 cultivates talent that can provide meaningful connections with the audience.
“We brought in authentic, real people who weren’t necessarily TV stars but had a direct connection and rapport with their audience,” explains Louderback, “We were not focused on the ‘hot stars’ but experts in certain fields.”
Today Revision3 has around three dozen shows in their repertoire spanning across myriad verticals including technology, gaming, even animals. With its acquisition by Discovery Networks last May, a first look deal with Max Benator’s shingle Mirus Content, and some of YouTube’s most seasoned creators including The Fine Brothers and Phil Defranco, Revision3 is poised to lead the way to making online video mainstream — something as accessible to the more luddite Baby Boomers as it is to hip Millennials.