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AppRising delivers insight into new broadband applications, exploring their impact on networks and their implications for public policy.

AppRising is written by Geoff Daily, who covers broadband applications and the business of online video. Based in Washington, DC, Geoff regularly advises applications developers, network operators, community leaders, and public officials on how to maximize adoption and use of the Internet.

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October 30, 2007 1:24 PM

Writing about Video on the Net from the Video on the Net Conference

tWriting today from Boston where I’m attending the Video on the Net conference.

Wanted to share a series of thoughts and observations I had during yesterday’s New Video Summit.

I got to the conference midway through a keynote presentation by Jeremy Allaire of Brightcove fame. Brightcove works with a number of high profile media brands, offering them a platform through which they can deliver video online.

He was discussing how way back in ’05 major media companies were slamming doors in their face. At best online video was being used as a marketing tool, at worst it wasn’t being used at all.

But he observes that that reality has obviously shifted, and he credits the rise of piracy as being a primary catalyst for convincing content owners to get in the game, lest they suffer the same fate as the music industry.

The thing that I appreciated about the rest of his comments, though, was that he stayed away from the typical rhetoric about how explosive the growth for online video has and will continue to be.

Instead, he spoke pragmatically about things like the fact that the “device divide” has taken longer to resolve than he expected. By this he means the push to bring Internet content to the TV and the lack of any dominant solution for that problem.

He also admitted that while the Internet has long promised the creation of a thriving marketplace of long tail content producers—or people who make content for niche audiences—that there aren’t that many people building real businesses on niche content. It’s not like it’s not happening, it’s just not happening in a big way.

(As an aside, during the subsequent session, a representative of OpenStage.com, a site that allows content producers to post their creations and have them ranked by the audience, talked about the challenge of how the Internet created this open platform for anyone to distribute content through, but 10 million people showed up to share their content and now consumers have no way of separating the worthwhile stuff from the bad.)

He touched on the reality that many of the initiatives built around web video are being financed based on projected future revenue, rather than proving themselves to be viable, profitable businesses given current demand for their content.

So putting this all together, he admitted that this is all taking longer than he originally thought it would, and he guesstimates that it’ll be 5-10 years before web video starts eating into viewership for TV in any significant way.

I’m actually still a bit more bullish on how soon that shift will happen, but I think Allaire hits upon a lot of good points. Arguably nothing has been more hyped on the Internet than the availability of all sorts of on-demand video, but we can’t forget how nascent all of this truly is.

I wanted to put particular emphasis on this reality as I think sometimes we get so caught up in the hype we begin to think that there’s no way we can guess where things are going next and that since everything’s growing so fast there’s no need to do anything to encourage that continued growth.

Instead, I’d argue that we can make some very good educated guesses about where things are going if we just pause for a moment and consider reality vs. the hype, and there’s likely still a lot that could be done to help spur this growth onwards and upwards.

Look forward to some of what my guesses are as to the future of this space and how we might achieve these goals later this week.


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