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Video Schmooze Recap

I had the opportunity to go to the Video Schmooze [sic. it’s not the spelling I’d use, but…] event this morning in NYC. Other than leaving the house in the pitch dark to make it there for an early start it was well worth the time to go in and hear from some of the industry folks on the state of online video. It was pretty light on sales-pitch presentations which I appreciated (especially for a half-day event) and I was pleasantly surprised to see some contentious discussions throughout the morning. Not that anyone was rude, but there was some real give and take amongst the participants on the nature of the online video universe.

Some key thoughts:

  • The growth in the pay-tv (ie cable, satellite) market is very slow; it’s more likely that economic issues rather than “cord-cutting,” the universe of people who have gone fully mobile/wifi that’s behind that growth curve.
  • The economics of the multiscreen world are very much unclear – business models are not proving to be gold mines, but instead it may turn out to be a long time before people find a steady way of making money from this new universe
  • Watching at home but on a mobile device is not exactly cord cutting, it’s just using a different kind of TV set
  • Unlike the existing TV world, you can’t afford to support bad programming with good programming; again, the economics are such that you don’t have the revenue streams coming in to allow that
  • Rights for online content have become a much more important conversation in negotiations between carriers/aggregators and content creators – there’s more value in them than there was once thought.
  • The family TV is often a gathering place but different than it used to be – each person probably has a second screen with them and may be having a completely different experience of the show from the person next to them. One may be looking up song lyrics while the other is participating in social discussions.

As you can tell, most of the discussion was centered on the consumer market rather than the enterprise market. There were some takeaways of note, both technical and strategic:

  • The word fragmented came up a number of times to describe the viewing marketplace, and that is clearly true. While this makes things extremely hard in the consumer market for anyone trying to make a profit, my feeling is it’s a bit less critical in the corporate/enterprise world. Very often corporate video is designed for niche audiences anyway, and the costs are a bit lower than developing a series for TV or the web. In a lot of ways you’re not trying to build an audience up, rather I think you need to capture a particular group of people already in the market for your type of goods or services. As I’ve said before, often you just want the right people watching – those who make the purchasing decisions.
  • Online content, for all the issue with video metrics, is far more measurable than TV, allowing more data-based decision making.
  • Upgrade cycles in an online world are shorter, so you can experiment with changes and implement them far more quickly, especially when your tools are software based.
  • According to one presenter (a vendor) they have about 2 seconds to authenticate users, verify devices and begin delivery of a video stream. 2 seconds. To complete all the handshakes and approvals to deliver content or users will often give up and look elsewhere.
  • Changes to security, formats, operating systems and all the rest mean a lot of complexity for distributing content. Disruption is a term that was applied here.

So that’s that. Again I might have liked to hear more about the enterprise market, but I learned some things and it was good to have my head exclusively in video for a few hours.

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