I Want My Web TV!
One thing that the writers strike has done, and will only continue to do as it drags on, is push viewers to the web. The biggest beneficiaries, not surprisingly, are video sharing sites such as Google’s YouTube and Crackle.com.
According to a report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, visits to sites such as YouTube have grown more then 45% over the last year. With fresh content beginning to dry up, you can be certain that shows such as Mr. Deity on Crackle or What the Buck on YouTube will look more appealing to consumers getting tired of American Gladiators and reruns of The Office.
Sites such as Hulu serve a useful purpose, but are ultimately little more than an approved dumping ground for old content that has already appeared elsewhere. One thing that Hulu does right is allowing embeds of their videos, not just for clips, but whole episodes (check out last week’s episode of The Simpsons, featuring Dan Rather and Jon Stewart, below). Eventually, as the line blurs between TV and Web programming, more long form content will spring up online, something that YouTube and Crackle, for all their virtues, don’t have nailed down, but Hulu gets.
In addition, hi-definition content is going to become more commonplace. Hulu already has some hi-def content, and YouTube is supposedly looking to add it, but note to Chad and Steve: I’m still waiting.
The future of Web video is likely going to fall somewhere in between the corporate dumping grounds and the user generated crap-shoots that currently make up our Web video diet.
Web video will continue to grow, but once we find that perfect blend of user-generated and professionally produced programming on one site, with long and short form and standard and hi-def options, it will really explode.
Until we get that perfect video site, I will have to get my daily fix of Penn Says on Crackle, and take a trip to Hulu to watch episodes of Chuck I may have missed. It isn’t perfect, but it appears to be catching on.
The WGA is right when they say that the Web is the future of video content distribution, but for all its potential, it isn’t yet ready for primetime.