Next New Networks and the New Vlogosphere.

N3.JPGNext New Networks has officially launched and has gotten some significant press in the past few days. N3 is run by a number of people who have had great success in “old media.” MTV, Nickelodeon, Sundance, AOL are just a few of the organizations connected to these folks. Some people may look at N3 and see old media trying to squeeze into the growing online video world that us videobloggers helped to create, but I see something different. Tim Shey has been working with videobloggers since early 2006 (Rocketboom, then Amanda Congdon for her Amanda Across America vlog). He also helped with the Halloween Vlog Fest last October. N3 is mixing the TV model with the video blog model. They have topical “networks” that focus on things like DIY fashion, cars, cartoons, and comics. They are mixing old media knowledge with New media practices

But this question begs to be asked: Are they gonna ruin this and make it just another corporate “old media” bastardization of “new media?” I say a resounding NO! N3 seems to understand some things that many other groups trying to jump into this new media world don’t.

1. Passion is important – Finding people who love the topics you want to build content around is Key. Having a pretty face hosting a show about home beer brewing may appeal to the carnal urges of male viewers, but having a guy who has been brewing at home for the past 20 years will pay off in the end. You can tell when someone loves what they are talking about it. Authority and passion is better than a pretty face or a “hip” look. But on the flip side, the person has to be able to combine that passion with an ability to present information and entertain. N3 Does this by finding the folks who have a strong interest in a topic and put them together with a solid group of producers etc. In the end the product reflects that.

2. A relationship with “the community” is key – Social networking, meetups, adding buddies or friends, Web 2.0 is all about the personal relationship in addition to quality service. A good example of this is Blip.tv you can call those guys any time of the day and they will help you out. they fix bugs on time and serve the community. Tim Shey seems to fill this position with N3. He jumps on the Videoblogging yahoo group, he gets involved with events, and even helped Galacticast obtain one of the things on their wish list. I would love for other members of the N3 team to get to know the folks who make up the vlogosphere, so here’s hoping.

3. Production quality is important – Obviously, the standards of production have been jammed into our heads by “old media.” some might say that the “amateur” aesthetics of videoblogging are a response to that. There are a number of different explanations to this disparity however. 1. Small budgets limit the amount of time and resources that can be dedicated to a single video. 2. videobloggers wear many hats and cannot be professional editors, talents, directors, and marketers, all at once. 3. The “rough” aesthetic reflects authenticity. Viewers have begun to distrust slick editing, ultra-polished perfomances, and super-model talent. But conversely, viewers still demand a certain level of production. they want enough style and professionalism to effectively communicate and entertain but not too much that it seems like there are ulterior motives. N3 seems to walk this fine line very well. Just look at Thread Heads and Pulp Secret. You can tell that the folks hosting the episodes are real people, not fabricated faces to a network.

But there are some things that N3 needs to keep in mind, especially when it comes to integrating advertising. While watching Pulp Secret, I noticed the usual interstitial promo like in most N3 episodes, but it was a bit disrupting. I don’t mind the promos, but the producers need to make sure to keep the transitions short and sweet. Make taking a break like quickly ripping off a band-aid. So far the promos have been in a similar vain as the conent. Let’s hope that they continue to be entertaining and fresh.

The group has been good with posting to their blog about upcoming projects etc, but I would love to see some more transparency. It is a difficult thing to do when business and non-disclosure agreements are involved, but I would love to know more abut what is going on in the N3 office, who is working on what, and what new projects are in the works! So, in the spirit of transparency, I will let you know that I have been working with the N3 folks on some Channel Frederator Promos and hope to continue to work with them on other projects. (My first promo will appear in the next episode of Channel Frederator, #71) So while it may seem that I am trying to kiss some N3 ass, I will simply state that I truly think that they got some good things going for them and am excited to see them grow with more networks covering a variety of topics.

2 comments

  1. Josh, these are great insights and exactly the kind of feedback we hope to get from the community (and not necessarily from media pundits / veterans…which may include me). Tim Shey certainly does embody spirit of what we hope to achieve. I was especially interested in your comments about intersticial promotions. In order for Next New Networks to maintain the respect of the community and foster that relationship, we most certainly need to be thoughtful about integrating promotions, sponsor messages and advertisements. We hope that the community will understand that we need sponsor support to serve the community, and we think we can provide more elegant solutions (i.e., no :15 or :30 pre-roll). In a sense, we are going to be asking advertisers to be “of the community”…to “mingle” with the community. They may even become “partners in programming” if we (and we includes the viewing, blogging, fan community) believe they can add value to the community. As a former brand guy (ten years), start-up guy and portal guy…I know this is a very tall order. I’m interested in your thoughts on this subject.

  2. Josh – Your insights are dead on in your post. Here are my thoughts on N3 and your comments:

    1. I thought the two sites you mentioned looked very similar in lay-out and design. Does N3 use a template and then replicate site lay-outs with varied themes and topics?

    2. Promotion is critical in the internet TV arena. How do people find out about these sites and shows? Clever SEM and blog outreach only go so far. If you are so niche and no one knows about you, how do you monetize your content?

    3. You made some great points about advertising. N3 should focus on natural, authentic, and organic product integration into their programs. For example, a network about cars might lend itself nicely to automotive OEM sponsorships. Granted, these are one-off deals and more difficult for a sales team to scale, but many advertisers want to be first movers on new and innovative video sites.

    4. Put the audience first. Know your audience. This is true for both old and new media. I liked what you said about passion in #1.

    5. Not everyone wants community on every single website. Facebook – yes. MTV Overdrive – no, I just want to watch the show I missed. If your video network is centered around UGC, you are too late to the game. Also, every brand does not need community and a UGC site! Not everyone wants a relationship with their Crest Toothpaste. Crest Toothpaste is an extreme example, but come on, every brand and marketer out there is creating UGC sites. This is overkill.

    6. Some people want to watch rotations of videos and just escape from their day. Engagement vs. escape. Yes, you can do this with your TV, but I have to TiVo or make an appointment to watch my shows on TV. And by the way, on a grand scale, TiVo is in very few homes.

    7. YouTube is your friend. Yes, it really is. Every show should have clips on YouTube (and the others) that last 10-15 seconds and contain a graphic at the end that drives you to their site with the logo and URL. If your content is really that superb, people will check out your site and watch the full shows, and maybe multiple episodes or other shows. Use YouTube as a promotion vehicle to drive traffic.

    8. Transparency is vital. It’s great that you can call up the guys at Blip.tv. Maintaining a strong and positive relationship with the vlogging world and guys like you is extremely important. I just started updating my blog again after a 2 year break – http://www.hutcheson.blogspot.com

    Great thoughts, Josh!

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