Yesterday evening, July 30, VideoInk, in partnership with Big Screen Little Screen and Magnet Media, hosted “Diversifying the Video Ecosystem: Can Anyone Really Take on YouTube?”
To kick off the event, a couple of videos helped pave the way for subsequent dialogue. First, Kate Oliva and Bryan Pauquette of Covert Bacon showed the pilot of “Master Date,” a comedic series that admittedly takes after events of Oliva’s own New York City dating experience. We got a sneak peek, as the series that chronicles online dating in the big city doesn’t premiere until August 11 on YouTube. You’ll have to wait until then to catch the first episode.
Next, Ryan Holloway of Forge Apollo showed the short-form “American History X-Men,” which has been out on Forge Apollo’s YouTube channel since May 19. A “Mega Movie Mashup,” the series jokingly explores what will happen in the future when Hollywood runs out of movie ideas…
Forge Apollo has its own platform filled with videos, but the website also actively directs viewers to their YouTube channel for more content. Like many current content creators, YouTube is a staple for Forge Apollo, but it’s status as the end-all-be-all video platform seems to be slowly eroding, as discussed in the panel.
The moderator for the panel this evening was VideoInk’s Sahil Patel, while panelists included Shira Lazar, the co-founder and host of “What’s Trending,” and Erika Nardini, chief marketing officer of AOL Advertising.
The two were able to provide unique perspectives on the subject of YouTube’s sheer size in the digital video space.
Shira Lazar: “Because of the power that virality and the community have, YouTube has become the go-to place…When I see a video on Vimeo that’s gotten a lot of views, I think, ‘They should have put it on YouTube.’ Also, the collaborations, cross-promotions, and annotations have allowed channels and content creators to really build within the YouTube community.”
Erika Nardini: “If you’re on Park Avenue and not putting your hand up and you want a cab, you are a moron. I think about YouTube in the same fashion. If you want to develop and nurture an audience, YouTube is the platform to do it.”
But YouTube also has its deficiencies, which the panelists were just as open to discussing.
Erika Nardini: “It’s not a curated environment…If you look at iJustine [who now has her own show on AOL], YouTube offers her the same box that YouTube offers Conde Nast, my kids, and anyone here.”
Shira Lazar: “It’s the 1% who makes money…People are getting 10 million views…though it’s a good amount of money [they’re getting from that], imagine 10 million views from a TV show and the amount in terms of a money is a lot more, like half a million a year.” Meanwhile, networks take 50% of what creators on YouTube get, and then there’s also the percentage YouTube takes (and taxes!).
Nardini also delved into how AOL looks to places like YouTube for content creators to feature on their own platform. AOL seeks people like iJustine (who has a broad YouTube following) and Nicole Richie (who’s much embraced on Twitter) so they can expand on the popularity they’ve previously earned in a single digital space.
Erika Nardini: “We love looking to YouTube to find talent for our programming. It has to do with authentic voices and stories….We love [iJustine’s] YouTube following. We discovered here there and we want her to grow it. But we believe there is an opportunity to program and distribute premium environments, and one thing YouTube doesn’t do is distribute. What we believe is having a really significant syndication platform that curates content.”
At the end of the panel, an audience member posed a last, tricky question. If there were no YouTube, and you had broad appeal content on your hands, what would your distribution strategy be? Where on the internet would you put that content?
Shira Lazar: “The places I go to at the end of the night are either Netflix or Hulu. Amazon is harder, as they don’t curate as much as Netflix or Hulu. If you’re an independent creator, [those platforms and] iTunes are places where the general public is searching for content at the end of the day.”
However, the internet is almost made for appealing to niche groups, and in this hypothetical scenario we’re peddling broad appeal content. After some inconclusive discussion, Sahil chimed in on this one: “So basically what we’re saying is that if Youtube didn’t exist, someone would have to come along and create it.”
If you want to hear more, check out our live-stream of the event in New York City, which comes from our friends at Watchitoo: