So Internet Video Is in the Stone Age? What's Wrong with Raw?

It’s one of those quotes that often fly through the air at industry conferences. Slow it down, put it in print and it makes you wonder.

At a CES conference sponsored by Variety, Vevo’s Rio Caraeff stated, “We’re at the stone age of creativity when it comes to what we can do on the Internet.”

 I’m sure, had I been there I would have nodded and applauded.

His point, more or less, is that most online video could have been created for television.

But we can stop right there and say, “Not true!”

Most online video wouldn’t last long on television, when you consider that a lot of online video is made up of stupid, narcissistic little bits from YouTube, or some really, really bad movies, or some penis humor or, how-to videos like the one I watched last summer that helped me fix the starter on a Briggs & Stratton lawn mower.

Well done! But it sort of belongs on the Internet.  

Caraeff’s point was more touchy-feely/woo-woo than that. He thinks the Internet’s online video is not quite “there” yet because it still isn’t as close as it could be to individual viewers or their own particular situation, or touching the environment where their visual head is, yada, yada.

Do you buy that? I did at first because I like to like critics. But the more I think of it, the more I think he’s almost totally wrong. Some of it may be really, really bad (as noted above; I’ll stop dwelling on it) but a lot of the Internet’s best moments are all about relating to its viewers, one to one.

Lately, I’m been watching more of Grace Helbig, who, if you haven’t heard, has left YouTube’s My Damn Channel where she hosted “Daily Grace,” with 2.4 million subscribers to start her own YouTube channel, “It’s Grace,” where she only had few hundred thousand so far, but millions and millions of views. So, you don’t think the Internet’s videos talk right to you? Look at this.

I was just talking about her yesterday to a guy who will be going out NATPE, the once-big confab for television syndicators. I was wondering why the Internet stars that are mobbed atVidCon aren’t wooed to syndicated television more often, or why a combination of TV and Internet never seems to work.

Both of those branches of show biz have the same kind of crap shoot mentality. But the Internet is so much more lean forward that someone like PewDiePie can get millions of viewers just watching him play video games. Talk about the new slackers. Man, they’re growing them on the YouTube game channels that let you watch people playing games but somehow involving you too. On lean back television, you’re just a bystander watching “Judge Judy.”

But to Caraeff’s point, online video is awfully intimate, and as personal as a selectively mass medium can be. Take a look at Style Haul YouTube channels. There are so many of them that when you ask their PR people it’s almost as if they make up a number. But let’s agree it’s about 2,000, in 50 or 60 countries, most of them hosted by youngish men and women who talk about beauty and fashion, often from the bedroom in their parent's home—and have gathered I over 100 million subscribers since way, way back in 2011.

According to Variety, StyleHaul is developing syndicated programming with Fremantle Media, the company that is behind “American Idol” and “America’s Got Talent.” But for all the star power appearing in Internet’s videos, they are not just an acquired taste, but a personal taste. And fleeting, Man, last year if more than five millennials got into a room at the same time a “Harlem Shake” video was sure to be popped out an hour later. Online video is real and raw or self-consciously polished, and it’s stone age "quality" is what make it different.  It’s simple.

5 comments about "So Internet Video Is in the Stone Age? What's Wrong with Raw? ".
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  1. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, January 9, 2014 at 2:47 p.m.

    Thoroughly agree that most online work would never make it on TV. Sometime's online is the petri dish agency's use to play out their stupid ideas. At other times what's online is intentionally pedantic like your Briggs & Stratton example - and that's why it's useful. All this being said, what's missing in all this discussion is the recognition that there's opportunity online - to create video that lives immersed in an integrated world of print, interaction, & video. In this work, we can rely on the digital page for what print does best and focus the video where video really is meaningful - which ISN'T joking, self absorbed odd creative executions made in the hope that they'll go viral. Consumers would like something far more useful to them.

  2. pj bednarski from Media business freelancer, January 9, 2014 at 2:56 p.m.

    Aw, Doug, you wrote the paragraph I should have. That's pretty perfect. Thanks.

  3. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, January 9, 2014 at 5:46 p.m.

    Great writing, PJ. I should, for complete honesty, reveal that while we've dabbled slightly - we haven't had a chance to create much video that really immerses itself in the integrated world. So much is silo-ed that video is too often just sent out to live, or die, on its own.

  4. Brian Stemmler from Stemmler Productions, January 17, 2014 at 5:03 p.m.

    As technology makes content more platform agnostic and the lines between lean forward and lean back blur, my answer to how best to create content via the youtube way or traditional broadcast way is "both". It will most likely be a hybrid. As a professional, I advise other TV pros to pay attention to how the YouTubers produce, and the successful YouTubers will have to learn and adapt to the unsexy business elements of producing content for profit and having many voices involved in the creative.

  5. Brian Stemmler from Stemmler Productions, January 17, 2014 at 10:23 p.m.

    BTW, one of my previous Associates on LXTV @shiralazar has successfully created a popular show on YouTube "What's Trending". This link is to a great talk she had about the future of TV with Kevin Smith, Lisa Kudrow, Burnie Burns and Jason Mewes

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