There’s little doubt that YouTube has become a huge success, no only because of its ease of use, but also because of the way it allows video segments to be shared, pasted into blogs and the like. One blogger has thought about why conventional content producers don’t ‘get it’:
First sign: some of them are scouring these video sites, demanding videos be taken down or threatening lawsuits. I could see maybe going after whole episodes or whole movies, but those don’t really work that well in the medium anyway - anyone both bored enough, cheap enough, and with low enough standards to watch a whole movie streamed like that isn’t going to give you money any time soon anyway.
Second sign: Most of them have never bothered to even put their stuff online. Even though Cartoon Network and Comedy Central have video clips you can’t easily link to them, blog about them, stick them on your Myspace page, etc. In a lot of cases, you can’t even search - you have to go to their home page, click on whatever weird name they came up with for their video clips section, then browse through lists of clips.
This is the third innovation on YouTube and virtually every video content producer has missed this for the past 10 years. Almost every attempt to put video online has been difficult to use, hard to find (doesn’t show up in searches), locked into some crappy format intended to deter copying, etc. They never really worked as part of the web. Online video has always felt forced, tacked on to the web rather than integrated into it.
It’s a lesson that, as traditional broadcast channels expand onto the web, really needs to be learned, and fast. As the terrestrial broadcasters gear up to the online world, ease of use needs to be top of the list of requirements — but the ability to share and discuss video content is vital, too. The concept of the ‘water cooler’ moment, which people talk about after they’ve seen a show the day before, changes entirely when programming becomes viewable on demand. Just as video is moving to the web, so too do the discussions about what we’ve been watching. In effect, the internet — with its blogs, message boards, and the like — has the power to be a global, distributed water cooler.
All it needs is for a savvy broadcaster to cotton on…