The way we talk (and write) about “online video” often feels like we’re stuck in the past decade, when the concept of watching “good TV” on your computer was pretty alien. We love throwing around these words like “traditional” to make distinctions between Hollywood and Vimeo, when Vimeo content is often as high quality and more thought provoking than the stuff Hollywood doles out these days.
Was feature film “The DUFF” not a lot like the polished, teen-targeted content you see on digital platforms? Can you consider “The West Wing” episodes “online video” because you can now watch them on Netflix?
These questions are either totally irrelevant or very deep. The only way to find out which is to determine the online video (whoops) terms that are plaguing our vocabulary and get at why they’re so annoying.
1. Online Video
A video is video, and often you can watch it on TV, Netflix, some sketchy free download site, and five other places. When you hear “YouTube video,” you know that’s an “online video.” When you hear “Netflix original series,” you know that means a series made specifically for the streaming service. “Online video” itself just means something you can watch online, which isn’t particularly descriptive.
2. Traditional TV
Is this a helpful umbrella term to cover all broadcast television and cable packages, or does it just make us sound like old fogies? Does using the term “old fogies” make us sound like old fogies even more? Most importantly, this term is misleading in that it makes TV sound like a traditional form of entertainment, compared to, say, plays, or verbal storytelling, or the pet rock.
3. Traditional Celebrities
Again, the word “traditional” here feels a bit out of place. The definition of celebrity is always evolving, perhaps more so these days because of the internet. Still, “Hollywood celebrity” would suffice in this case, or even “film or TV actor.” Yet the question remains: Where does Kim Kardashian fit into all of this?
4. Video on Demand
This means something if you subscribe to some kind of cable TV package and have an “on demand” section you click to using your remote to access videos you can watch whenever you want for free or for a price. It means a lot less when you consider the entire online landscape, where nearly all content is “on demand” all the time.
5. Living Room Screen
This goes hand in hand with “traditional TV.” It’s people trying to grasp at the concept of having a central kind of entertainment system in the home akin to when television first started becoming a household staple in the 1950s. Mostly worth considering, a lot of people who watch videos don’t have living rooms (dorm rooms are a big example amongst the TV-viewing demographic), rendering the term even emptier.
6. Digital Talent
Vloggers aren’t quite actors…which means that they’re vloggers, which has a name in and of itself. Also, some “digital talent” does act, so we should start giving them credit where credit is due, I guess. Also, it’s easy to let your mind wander, here, and think of the other meaning of “digital,” like fingers, so these people are actually sculptors, or guitarists, or…
There are a lot of different kinds of tech that people can use to watch things. Get over it.
Let’s face it: The word viral has gone viral to the point of being annoying, like Charlie biting his brother’s stupid finger.
9. Video Creators
How come no one uses this to describe the creators of TV series? Because, for some reason, it just sounds bad? Yeah, that’s probably why.
*Note: You will see all of these terms again (and again) on VideoInk.