Traditional video content creators view the Internet as a new distribution tool and a way to get their content in front of viewers. Nontraditional video content creators view the Internet as the distribution tool for getting their content in front of viewers.
And then there's CameraPlanet.com.
Visitors to CameraPlanet.com are more than just visitors; they also help create the content. They submit story ideas via e-mail, and, if CameraPlanet finds the story interesting, it will help the visitor produce a video to be streamed on the site. CameraPlanet is currently signed on with three partners-Fast Company, Court TV and Alloy.com-which have "channels" on PlanetCamera.com Web.
It's all part of tapping into the sense of connectedness that drives the Internet.
"People go to the Web not looking for linear programming but rather to be part of something," says Steven Rosenbaum, Cameraplanet.com founder and president. "Viewers have great access to story content, and we add the journalism."
For Rosenbaum, the goal is to create a sense of community. "We make really innovative, original content that adds video to a Web site and does it in a way that makes the community members feel like they're actually participants in the Web site rather than just viewers," he explains. "TV on the Web is about empowering individuals to tell new stories, not just distributing the same old stories."
Talking with Rosenbaum makes clear that he's a hopeless TV romantic, harking back to the days when three networks ruled the planet and everyone came into school talking about the hot TV show of the day, whether it was Bonanza or Twin Peaks. He explains that, while cable has added choice, it has made the sense of community a lot less obtainable. There's a touch of irony in that the medium offering the ultimate in choice will also destroy the sense of community.
Of course, singing the hippie praises of community gets a business only so far. CameraPlanet.com does have a business model, based on what Rosenbaum calls "contextual" advertising. "By going to a site, you tell a little bit about yourself," he says. "In fairly short order, you'll find a couple of Web sites that interest you. And each site is going to say, we want to create an environment for you."
According to Rosenbaum, building the site has cost CameraPlanet.com's parent company, BNNtv.com, more than $1million. He is in discussions with more than 25 possible affiliates and expects more deals to be announced shortly.