YouTube continues to be positioned as a considerable threat when it comes to starting up premium TV channels -- somewhat akin to Hulu. But is it serious or just still messing around?
YouTube made an announcement to this effect about original video content a couple of days ago, with some big names in celebrity/producers and entertainment companies attached -- Madonna, Jay-Z, Ashton Kutcher, Sofia Vergara, Shaquille O'Neal, BermanBraun, FremantleMedia, WWE, Ben Silverman's Electus, to name a few.
This isn't about watching an episode of "NCIS" or "Modern Family" the night after it airs on network television. YouTube's effort is about earmarking some $150 million for new video programming.
The question remains -- as it has for YouTube and other would-be original Internet video artists: What will it take for consumers to believe this is premium original TV -- for the Internet? Perhaps buying commercial time for big program promos on... say.. television? As we have learned recently from a TiVo study, just running 700 to 1,000 gross rating points for about a month or so on TV is no guarantee of success for a new broadcast TV show.
Internet video proponents say there are plenty of ways to get the word out that don’t have to do with traditional TV promo marketing. They will tell you about plenty of original short-duration Internet series that pull in more than a million views an episode.
The rub: Why can't videos on YouTube and other original video sites get premium TV ad rates -- at least close to that grabbed by cable programming networks? I'm guessing advertisers don't think -- at the moment -- it's worth it.
Internet video shows need some bigger broader promotion buzz from the likes the most established TV networks -- all to get network-like CPMs. But, according to one analyst, what all those original Internet videos result in -- more often than not -- is just some promotion and marketing spin for the celebrities/producers involved.
But give broadcast and cable networks another five years of ratings fractionalization, and you'll have YouTube viewership on top. Then it'll have a better story to tell video advertisers.
Right now, short videos -- some professionally produced, some not -- are still providing the bulk of YouTube's traffic and revenues. One example of many, according to The Hollywood Reporter, is the 56-second "Charlie Bit My Finger" video. This has been viewed 384 million times but only took in a tiny $500,000 in advertising, half of which is split with the producer. That ain't much. Then again, that's only for a minute of some Internet viewer's time (we don't have unique viewer data for this for a more direct comparison to traditional TV).
All this means that the rought value of this video was $250,000 for 30 seconds of viewing time -- which would be the cost of a prime-time commercial for a top-rated network TV show.