Hollywood’s Attempt To Enter Online Video

I haven’t done any more research on this than reading a post on John C. Dvorak’s blog, but I think this is interesting. YouTube and Google Video have been highly successful, and I have spent entirely too much time on both. I’m not sure if the traditional television or cable network is in any serious danger of going away, but online video does offer a lot of conveniences that traditional media doesn’t. Cable companies have tried to offer services like Comcast’s On Demand, but even these can be limited and restricted. I look forward to a service that will allow me to watch what I want, when I want to watch it, and even WHERE I want to watch it.

That being said, I’m not very excited about this service for a few reasons, again all of them based on Dvorak’s cynical write-up:

First of all the site is loaded with too much gimmicky animations. The videos do not work without yet another download from Macromedia (why??). And the embed code is good but look (above) at the lame video promoting the channel. When all is said and done this is too slick to work. There is a nagging public sentiment that when content is too gussied up it means the content itself isn’t any good. This site may bear that out.

All that being said, I hope the producers go ahead with this project. Whether it succeeds or fails, somebody with talent and knowledge will find a way to make another site like this work. I’ll admit, for all the time I spend on YouTube, it’s not for clips of videos of toddlers doing silly things (I have my own collection anyway). I don’t care for the amateur stuff (although Chad Vader is cool). I typically go to YouTube and Google Video for professional type material. If somebody can produce an online video network with professionally produced content I very well might want to watch it. I have some caveats thought:

  • Obviously, I wouldn’t expect somebody to put up a site like this at a financial loss, but the profit margin should remain beneath an abstraction layer to me. I don’t want to spend all of my time on the site being reminded that you’re not doing it for my enjoyment for for your own financial gain. If you look at just about everything the RIAA and most of what the MPAA do, it is apparent that their motivation is to get EVERY LAST PENNY from their content. The Recording Industry is becoming the personification of greed in America (actually, it long since has but I’m trying not to sound pessimistic).
  • Don’t make me follow a complicated registration process just to watch a video. There is no need to do this unless you’re already violating my first caveat: keep your greed to yourself!
  • Don’t make me install a "special" plug-in or use some strange codec. YouTube is good because all videos are in flash, a highly common file format that is available on just about every platform.
  • Allow portability. Let me transfer some videos to my iPod or Pocket PC or even carry on my laptop for, say, a flight.

I don’t think any of those are unreasonable, and I would certainly take them into account if I were putting together a video service. Perhaps it’s because I’m part of the tail-end of Generation X, or because I’ve spent so much time on the Internet, but I like my web content to be "free". I am a firm believer that people should be paid for their work, of course, but I am not going to access their work just so they can make money, I’m going to access it because it provides me with value. I suspect most other people would as well.

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