The Greatest Content You've Never Seen

For I don’t  know why, I still look at the insipid home page provided by Comcast, my Internet provider. It is where I find out 100% of my news about the Kardashians and other people with bitchin’ bods, as the hard-hitting E! Entertainment anchors usually phrase it.

It is where millions of others go, if ever so fleetingly, before retrieving their mail. It’s all stupid, all the time. It appears all ISP home pages seem to all be competing for the lowest common denominator.  

But if you come to the Web to find online video, and if you don’t know what you’re looking for, that home page is worthless.

Whereas you’d think, somebody might want to make it a billboard of sorts for the online video content that is dotted all over the Internet.  

Comcast owns NBC, so there is a lot of NBC cheerleading on that home page, but there’s ample places for that page to do other types of promoting, too. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t.

Netflix advertises on TV, and so does Hulu.  But most of the online video content sites don’t seem to do much of anything to help attract audiences to their own product .

Online video is popularized by earned media and only earned media, and they’re not getting much help from Internet providers, or even the host content sites.

Yahoo was so excited to land Katie Couric. But go to Yahoo and discover Couricmania: It’s a small square graphic on the news page with her photo and her name, and her handle —Global News Anchor— and descriptions of three recent pieces: “Interview: Robert DeNiro, Interview: Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and “Now I Get It: Sunnis vs. Shias in Iraq.”

Why Isn’t Yahoo saying, on a daily basis, “Here’s great content, just for you.” AOL.com, on its home page at least billboards its original shows, but again, not in an oh-wow way, more like, we-have-this-if-you’re-interested.  

Much better, but straying off the point is Huffington Post. It’s not my favorite site but a site whose home page is a good table of contents for some of what’s in there.

YouTube tries to highlight stuff I’d like, and stuff I’ve subscribed to, but it seems so antiseptic that no doubt Jeffrey Katzenberg realizes he has a potential franchise with the still kinda-new “YouTube Nation” started in January. It’s a channel that daily, in five minutes or so, highlights interesting YouTube personalities and channels.

I am not much of a fan of “YouTube Nation” as it is—so disingenuous in its enthusiasm for videos it is promoting and so packaged, like at a different time it would be called something like “Dick Clark’s Swingin’ YouTube.”

But the idea is right there. It’s a daily show that tries to cherry pick videos from the avalanche of content, creating buzz.

As Katzenberg apparently would be the first to tell you, “YouTube Nation” needs more channels divvied up to specific kinds of YouTube fare—travel, music, cooking, comedy, fashion. But as a marketer and a programmer, you get that Katzenberg gets it: Viewers, even iconoclastic, nomadic Internet-bred viewers, need guidance and they even need promos.

As online video is growing up looking for advertisers, the one category that is not represented are online video content creators themselves, not even on the sites over which they should hold some sway.

“We have created a lighthouse that is in service of everything that is great, unique and singular in what I believe will be the biggest, most valuable video platform in the world, which is YouTube,” Katzenberg said at VidCon last week, as reported by StreamDaily.com. ““You go back to the days of MTV music, and everybody wanted to be on ‘TRL,’ because that’s where you could be discovered.”

Now the trouble is getting the people who would do the discovering of the talent—viewers—to find the sites that are doing it.

The industry bemoans the glut of content and the relative absence of premium content, but I think it should reserve a little bemoan or two for the plain fact that the biggest obstacle to video online is that a lot of the good stuff passes without notice, or promotion or marketing. It’s there, just not observed, like that silent falling tree in the forest.

pj@mediapost.com

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