5Qs with… Innovative Artists’ David Tochterman

/ Jul 29, 2013

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David Tochterman is head of digital media for Innovative Artists, a talent agency that provides consulting services and content strategy for creators, production companies, media companies, and brands, among others. David oversees the packaging of original and branded content with an eye toward building monetizable properties that can exist on multiple platforms. He represents some award-winning projects you probably know a bunch about, including “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries,” “Squaresville,” and “What’s Trending.” If you haven’t figured it out by now, he’s the featured guest in this Monday’s 5Qs.

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Monetization can be difficult for online video programmers. What are some key things creators and networks need to do when developing and packaging web-original programming?

Content strategy is king.  We’ve moved beyond rev-share, the most important thing is to maximize the multiple distribution windows, revenue streams, and opportunities for exploitation in a digital economy. Protecting the ongoing value of your intellectual property is crucial, to ensure participation in all revenue streams and make sure you’re not leaving any potential deals off the table. Though most creators shouldn’t negotiate without the advice of an agent, manager, or attorney, there is so much more power in the hands of creators who now have a seat at the table when all sides are collaborating on monetization strategy,

There are a lot of different parts to what people consider to be “original online video.” From short-form web series to TV-length programming to vlogging to one-off branded content. Which do you think has the most long-term legs?

The meaning of “original online video” is so subjective, “House of Cards” or “Orange Is the New Black” are considered original online video but obviously in a much different way than “indie” creators and platforms that don’t have large budgets and Oscar-winning talent.

I think the long-term upside for video is in formats and media properties that can work on multiple platforms. “Annoying Orange” and Epic Meal Time are great examples of exploitation of IP. Paramount has done a great job with “Burning Love.”  Funny or Die, Vice, and AwesomenessTV have exploited their brand to other platforms. The larger individual YouTube talent channels also have long-term upside based on the loyalty of their audiences, and they can become media properties off YouTube as well.

What’s the biggest misunderstanding creators, brands, and digital producers have about each other and working together?

Creators and producers should always be aware that almost all online content is brand-supported in some way, and that will always be a factor. Sometimes the lines get blurred between art and commerce when a project is referred to as “branded content.” Great storytelling and producing is key, but so many distribution windows are ad-supported that understanding advertisers and brands is an important a part of the process.

Who do you think is “killing it” in online video right now?

The growth of native online studios and talent channels are really killing it — The Fine Brothers, Machinima, Fullscreen, The Collective — a new generation of creativity and thought leadership.  Alloy has built a smart business and what they’ve accomplished with Smosh is pretty amazing.  Yahoo and AOL have also become important players — at their Newfronts it was clear that they are successfully moving to the mainstream.

What’s your prediction for the industry for the rest of 2013?

More consolidation as the lines blur between traditional and digital media. This year alone we’ve seen Time Warner, Fox, Dreamworks, and other big media enter the game in a significant way. And Bedrocket investing in “What’s Trending” — these things are great for the online video business. More crossover content between online and TV. And the inevitable tipping point where an original online video project gets national buzz and recognition.

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