Tech is not the answer to video podcasting woes

Yep! You read that right. I said it. No one was man enough to blurt out the presence of a big fat hairy elephant in the room. Now, I’ve done it. PodTech may have figured it out too.

You know, I’ve been a fan of the video podcasting model for quite some time. In late 2005, when I launched my own audio podcast, I began to sample almost every podcast, video and audio, that I had any interest in. Sometimes, I’d even check out a show that had some hype, even if it didn’t appeal to me. In short order, I had an iPod w/ video that served me well during my commute to work. I carpool, and quickly discovered that I could even watch a show or two on my non-driving days.

So, here we are, almost two years later, and I’ve only seen a few video podcasting shows or networks emerge as a viable alternative to mainstream television. Revision3, TWiT, & PodTech are the top three.

Of course, the majority of the programming is non-fiction, mostly documentary in nature. While I love that kind of programming, my Tivo has proven that with every episode of Mythbusters, Dirty Jobs, etc., I also love a good story. And the traditional story-telling based programming has yet to emerge in the internet television world. Now, I’m sure that many have tried, but so far none have succeeded. Now, don’t freak out. I’m fully aware of Ask A Ninja and TikiBar TV. Those shows are popular, creative, and tell a story, sorta. My point is that you don’t see any kind of sit-com, dramady, or serialized drama replacement on the horizon. The new programming doesn’t have to follow hollywood’s format, they just have to be good enough to replace them. And, face it, it doesn’t take much to replace Hollywood. They’ve been deciding for us what we like for so long, they have no idea what will be a record-breaker. Take a look at The Office. It took the British to bring us that one. Hollywood hadn’t done anything that caught a cult following since the mid-90’s, Seinfeld/Friends. (They’re one in the same. Just written to a different audience.)

Last year, at a family function, I met an experienced Hollywood musketeer. Chuck’s path has been solid and varied. Out of that meeting came several great conversations, mostly about the topic of video podcasting and its influence upon mainstream television.

One thing Chuck had said that stuck with me was his focus on the quality of content. I can’t remember his exact statement, but it was all about the quality of content. A couple of inexperienced young guys can’t expect to develop a Seinfeld. He didn’t say that exactly, but I think that’s kinda what he meant.

So, now it’s up to a couple of guys (or gals) to prove him wrong. Now it’s time for a small team of bright and talented creative types to develop, write, cast, produce, AND market at top quality program. This program could be a drama or a comedy, but it would have to be good enough for TV. Now the real catch would be when they started turning down opportunties from the big-whigs. Yeah, it’s one thing to get noticed. It’s another when the MSM starts to talk about you. But, it’s a whole new enchilada when they offer you the chance to cross over and you say, “Na, we want to remain independent.” It would be great to be able to later say, “Yeah, ABC wanted to sign us, but we didn’t want ___.”

I have more Google News alerts coming in than I have time to read. Included in my long list of catchy, hip words is, “video podcasting”, “iptv”, and “internet television”. That means, each day I get overloaded with all the top news articles, worldwide, that have talked about those issues. Rarely do I read each article. Most of the time I simply read the title and make a mental note. Of course I also look out for those topics being discussed on my favorite blogs.

Recently, I saw this topic discussed over at Wired. Jim Louderback, the former Editor-in-Chief at PC Magazine, who is now the CEO of Revision3, was interviewed. There’s two important things to note from this interview. First, A MAINSTREAM HONCHO WAS HIRED BY AN INTERNET TELEVISION COMPANY. That’s huge news. It shows that there is a future for internet programming, and I don’t mean repurposed TV programming. I mean programming that was created for the internet. Now, I’m not going to discuss today the art of getting this programming onto your televsion. When my new Mac mini arrives, I’ll talk more about subscribing to an HD video podcast in iTunes and watching it in Front Row with my 42″ HDTV as the monitor. I digress.

The second thing that is important to note from this interview is that Jim is the first of the big internet televisioneers to mention that tech-related programming is not the-end-all-be-all.

So we’re not going to be TechTV reborn. We’re not going to chase ratings for ratings sake, and we’re not going to be limited by just technology-related programming. We’re about building programming that appeals to a wide range of viewers’ passions – thus we also have shows about music and comic books, with more to come. I don’t watch G4 these days, but I think the whole “gaming” and “laddie” TV market is pretty saturated. As for TWiT, Leo’s stuff is great, but we plan on being broader than just core technology.

Yeah! If you think about it, once you have a great idea, producing a show like The Office or Scrubs wouldn’t be all that hard. The costs would be very low. The set could be an existing structure, even someone’s home. The cast could be a hand selected group of friends and family. You could even start small, with just those that are good enough. Then you could grow your cast as you grow in popularity.

The few production tools that limit this team would be special effects and access to copyrighted content. You couldn’t have any RIAA protected music playing, for instance. (We know what they’d do if you did.) You also couldn’t easily pull off an explosion, legally.

But even with these limitations, you still could produce a large variety of programming.

So, what are you waiting for?

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Author: TREVOR

Leukemia survivor. Son of The Most High. Father. Man.

2 thoughts on “Tech is not the answer to video podcasting woes”

  1. I’ve had a few good ideas, but I don’t have the equipment, or the editing skills to produce a good show.

    I’m hoping, after we move to Portland, that I can find a small team of like minded video pros who’ll want to join our forces and make something great.

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  2. Love this post, Trevor. It’s really all about mastering the medium, isn’t it. We’ve had this explosion of new technology that has enabled the everyday man to put his video work out in front of millions, but so far, nothing’s really made it big, because nothing’s been that great. There were a few, like LonelyGirl15 on YouTube, but still even that was pretty mediocre.

    It’s about time someone came up with a great idea and took it to fruition. It could really take off.

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