by: David Polinchock
I was watching the Today Show this morning and they had a segment on the latest viral sensation, a web site showing video of cute things sleeping. Of course, I wasn't able to find a link on the Today Show web site, but fortunately I found it anyway and it's posted below in case you haven't seen it. And like that previous web sensation from a few weeks ago -- that puppy cam thing -- I'm sure that this web site will be hot for a while and then it will fade away. Well, maybe this one will stay a little longer, since it didn't help that those puppies started to grow and then got adopted!
But as I thought about the whole viral thing and I was reminded of a TV show that lots of folks must watch, it's just been renewed for it's 19th year. According to Wikipedia:
Produced by Vin Di Bona (with co-executive producers Todd Thicke and Michele Nasraway, it is currently the second longest-running entertainment program on ABC.
For close to 20 years, America's Funniest Home Videos has been the pre-curser for youtube. In fact, I don't know why Vin Di Bona didn't launch the whole online video thing years ago, he'd be even richer then he probably is today. I mean, AFV really has been working as youtube for two decades! According to their official web site:
In its 19 seasons to date, America's Funniest Home Videos has given away over $10 million in prize money and evaluated more than half a million videotapes from home viewers.
I was actually surprised that they only viewed half a million videos, I would've actually thought it would've been a higher number over 19 years. But, if they've given away $10 million, they've probably made people more money on AFV then anyone's made on youtube.
But there's a bigger point here. youtube and viral video's aren't a new phenomenon. We've enjoyed watching cute animals sleeping and guys getting hit in the balls for almost 20 years already on AFV. Millions of people watch it every week. In it's peak, 38 million were watching AFV on Sunday night. Today it seems to be getting about 7 - 9 million viewers on a Sunday night, but who knows how many people are watching it in reruns, etc., so it's still got a hefty viewership. So, the demand for consumer generated content is there and it's been there for close to 20 years.
But, there's demand for it maybe once or twice a week. Notice there's no AFV channel, showing videos of cute animals and balls flying into crotches 24 hours/day. And it's really funny to watch for short periods of time. But, we can't really watch that kind of user-generated content for really long periods of time.
So, yes, we will watch content in new ways and on new devices. And we'll watch silly, short videos. But, at the end of the day, we like watching well done content. I'm not necessarily saying professional, because I'm not sure that it has to be created by professionals. But it has to be good, tell a story of some kind and tell it well. Otherwise we'll give it an hour on Sunday night, but we'll look for real content the rest of the week.
And that's why Hulu has been so a huge success. Really, we like watching good content. So UGC will always have a place, I don't think it'll ever replace well done content in the future.