Searching Online Video to Discover How It Ever Got to This

 A lot of stuff crosses the transom over here at VidBlog Central. Some is funny. Some is impossibly dull and some of it contains the kinds of statements you want to keep around for about 20 years so you can write about it then and marvel at Where We Are Now.

I can already imagine an online video retrospective that begins:  “Believe it or not, in 2013, a blogger actually wrote...” the way you now read really naïve (or astoundingly accurate, or just odd) pronouncements about technological advancements at other times in history. (For example, I have a science magazine from the 1930s that predicted that something like one in four of us would live in mobile homes by now.).     

Reading a blog by Heather Taylor, the editorial director of eConsultancy U.S, about the SXSW confab in Austin,  I was flashing forward to 2030 when some archivist will reads this paragraph in her report:



“Smartphone technology was also used to stimulate interactions between virtual phenomena and real people in the physical world. One session, for example, highlighted the successful cat video film festival held at Open Field by the Walker Art Museum, where a silly and popular Internet meme—funny cat videos—was projected onto a movie screen in front of an adoring live audience. Similarly, Austin practically vibrated with the buzz surrounding the real-life presence of Mashable’s Grumpy Cat, with hundreds of people waiting in the rain to take advantage of a photo opp. In both cases, it was interesting to see communities of real people in the physical world coalescing in real time around phenomena that owe their popularity to the timeless, virtual world of the Web.”

Not that she was wrong, but we still are at the J.Fred Muggs stage of development of online video, though in some ways, marketers have taken over the medium more thoroughly and quickly than they did with television.  But what happened, exactly? People who watch online video, who make online video and who sell online video are still pretty much in the business of patting themselves on the back and shaking their heads in disbelief for getting this far. They point to things like the “Harlem Shake” videos or that insipid video of  the little kid whose brother bites his finger to confirm their own bewilderment about what “works” online.

But some of what’s hitting online makes it unmistakably clear the world has changed, radically, in just a year.

Turner Sports reported record-setting video streams for the NCAA March Madness games earlier this week. “Across online and mobile (tablets and smart phones) platforms, NCAA March Madness Live has garnered 45 million live video streams, up 158% vs. 2012 tournament to date, and more than 12.6 million hours of live video consumed” during the first two weeks of the tournament, Turner’s PR. people said.  In typical online video style, the increase was not some modest little number but some unfathomable leap from just the year before.

Through the first two weeks, the games attracted 45 million live video streams. And then there’s this ridiculous-sized stat:   5.0 million unique visitors watched live video, an increase of 139% versus the entire 2012 tournament (2.1 million).  The mobile app had 3.2 million unique visitors watch live video, up 93% over the entire tournament last year (1.6 million).

Something’s happening here.

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