We haven't checked with Revision 3, Blip.tv, or Mevio about whether they have served over 1 billion videos over the short life of streaming media on the Web, but Next New Networks appears to the one who came up with the bright idea of celebrating the milestone. We have to give them some PR props. The home of Web series IndyMogul, Channel Frederator and ThreadBanger is throwing a billion-videos played party. The dedicated site NextNewBillion.com has a countdown meter that invites the user to vote on the day the site will crack the big mark. A downloadable poster is a mosaic of 5,000 screen shots. The company launched in March 2007 mainly as a digital studio of Web video shows. The model has evolved a bit since then but generally it still incubates and distributes over 20 shows across the usual syndication routes online.
The company blog reels off the numbers. Next New claims to have put out 8,000 episodes of programming in the last three years, which they calculate as 125,000 views on average per episode. They also say that their monthly views have rocketed in the first six months of this year from 32.8 million to 65.3 million. According to CEO Lance Podell in an interview at VideoNuze one of their most popular shows IndyMogul gets 5 million monthly downloads. Only about 10% of video views for the shows actually come on the destination site as "super-distribution" has become the syndication engine.
Podell says that it is still a big challenge to engage advertisers who are at different stages of adoption of web video. Some are throwing repurposed TV at clips and others are going all in for branded entertainment. "And some, which we love the most, say 'we get the new rules, we're open to new ideas, how do we work with your community?'" he says.
Well, Web series like Next New's probably could use a little more cooperation between advertisers and content makers because the dissonance between ads and video still reigns. When I click through to the pop culture-oriented Barely Digital I see a site that was lucky enough to land a major clients like Cotton. But what are these pre-rolls of slo-mo upper-middle-class ladies loving their lives in cotton shifts doing wrapped around this send-up of Katy Perry's California Girl? Rude clowns flashing the camera, a puke cannon blowing off, and self satisfied ladies spinning through the ecstasy that is a life in cotton. An Oscar Mayer deli meat campaign for healthy eating sits beneath a banner for Red Baron frozen pizza. Pop-up overlay ads for online games show up here and there. All this for a three-minute clip.
Agreed that content providers have to monetize somehow and are at the mercy of the creative and models available. But let's face it. Billions of videos may have been served online in recent years, but that doesn't mean most video experiences are even close to what they should be.