Commentary

A TV Franchise In The Video Generation: 'The Insider'

Celebrity entertainment show connoisseurs likely noticed “The Insider”’s recent name change to “omg!Insider,” part of its partnership with YahooOMG. The rebranding may not be all that surprising to fans who have seen the show undergo many evolutions: at least six anchors and various formats from traditional news to panels. But this change holds real significance for the franchise in the digital era. Although “The Insider” started out as a standalone TV brand, it has grown into several publishing legs: a cable and broadcast show and an online video channel on omg.yahoo.com. But even this isn’t enough. To make it in the video generation, television brands must publish through many brands across many screens.

Even with all the investments in content, sets, and hosts, the show struggled to find its footing, and its troubles likely increased as more celebrity entertainment content was brought online. Even host Kevin Frazier called the show, “a dinosaur” and worried about its survival while similar content is uploaded to YouTube every minute. Cable and broadcast shows are now competing for audiences who are watching videos on Crackle, Netflix, Hulu,  -- and in the case of “The Insider,” unlimited entertainment blogs, websites, and video portals. Luckily, someone was paying attention and penned a partnership with Yahoo. A week after the name change, ratings were up 35% week to week and year to year.

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Why the Yahoo Partnership Works

“omg!Insider" was a baby step toward achieving everywhere-ness. The marriage with Yahoo was much more than a name change. The show’s producers were able to build a presence on a top web destination for entertainment news (boasting 29.1 million monthly unique visitors), where “omg!Insider” is the exclusive source for videos and has an entire website section devoted to its content. In return, omg.yahoo.com likely sends audiences to the TV show with broadcast and cable schedule listings on the site.

This is your quintessential publisher-producer relationship that we predict will happen more. The producer brings the content and the publisher brings the audience. Both can sell ads and share in the revenue (I’m only speaking generally). “The Insider” isn’t everywhere yet, but the partnership with Yahoo is a good start in establishing a larger audience footprint.

Beyond Baby Steps

“The Insider” has much further to go.

  • TheInsider.com –The online magazine should still be a vital asset of the brand, but it hasn’t been updated since December 2012. If Yahoo has exclusive rights to video content, it should use TheInsider.com as an additional destination to syndicate content. There’s no reason to lose the visitors who can help support both channels.
  • YouTube – You won’t find a YouTube channel for “The Insider” or “omg!Insider,” but you will find clips from the show being uploaded by users like densitivafan. A channel on YouTube would allow “omg!Insider” to tap into Google’s monetization opportunities and drown out unauthorized uploads.
  • Device apps – Why isn’t there a branded app for the show? A search on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon will leave users empty-handed or direct them to download an app by BIW Media called “OMG Celebrity Gossip,” which is probably using the omg! brand just for this reason.
  • Streaming channels – Audiences spend a lot of time on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Roku, and a content channel on one (or all) of these providers could attract new viewers and drive more audiences to CBS.

Publishers (in this case Yahoo) must provide audiences with as many roads to their content as possible. If Yahoo isn’t going to do the video content or the brand any justice beyond the web, then maybe someone else should. While “The Insider” has earned a lot of brand value over the last 9 years, the Yahoo partnership should only be one baby step of many toward reaching audiences on every screen.

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