Commentary

User-Generated Video? So 2005. But It May Be A Real Business -- In 2016

It wasn’t that long ago -- probably the last decade -- that we all thought short-form, user-generated videos would be the norm, replacing all that boring TV stuff -- dramas, comedies, reality shows.

YouTube was going to be the bearer of this honor.

We didn’t need TV professional TV executives to give us what we really wanted: short-ish, trampoline-bouncing, wily-looking people ready to dunk a basketball -- only to split their head open on the basketball post. I mean, really -- what’s is better than that?

Turns out that even millennials  -- who continue to switch to digital TV platforms from traditional media channels -- are still watching long-form videos, perhaps more so. You know, that stuff on those lower-numbered channels that come in around 30 or 60 minutes in length.

Maybe your everyday TV watcher who sometimes turns into a “video creator” isn’t always that good. Surely they don’t make enough money. Jason Kilar, chief executive officer of wannabe YouTube competitor Vessel, says few are making real money.  

For example he says a typical creator in this field makes, on free, ad-supported internet platforms, between $2 and $3 per thousand views. For its own part, he says a Vessel creator could make $50 per thousand views.

Perhaps that incentive will push those neo-video maker to work harder -- and make better stories.

Veteran TV executives must be thinking: Sure, you think it’s easy? Go and produce. Then rewrite, reshoot. Then recast.

In TV, it’s still a rare game to make a long career and make money. And even then you have to be lucky. At best it works if you are a Awesomeness TV, or another YouTube-based video group that can house thousands of independent video producers looking to work long and hard.

The other side of equation: Who will pay? Consumers and advertisers? YouTube revenues still grow -- up to $4 billion in 2014 from $3 billion the year before.

But what of it? YouTube still isn’t profitable. Does that mean user-generated videos still aren’t a real business?

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