Online Video’s Second Act

/ Jul 31, 2013


Six years ago, a small band of sisters and brothers put every ounce of our creative souls into launching My Damn Channel on July 31, 2007. We were certain the big bang of user-generated video would lead to a second act for online video where the best original series could be birthed, funded, and distributed. We were inspired to give fans direct access to the best original entertainment by their favorite artists. Every content creator was reignited with creative freedom rarely found in old show business. And a new generation of creators and networks was able to reach mass audiences faster and more economically than in the past.

We raced to get a head start in ’07. We programmed our network exclusively with the best original series we could produce and distribute. We signed and backed the most talented entertainers and filmmakers we knew. Quality trumps quantity in our land. We envisioned a brand built to last — defined by the best original series — created by the best talent.

We always believed killer content was the killer app to drive multiple revenue streams. Loyal, engaged, and interactive audiences attract advertisers who want to partner on smart and efficient ways to reach them. We predicted portals would fund premium content. And eventually, audiences could be inspired to pay and subscribe directly. But most big money bets on the early startups went to tech-based businesses that pushed our devices to work faster, smarter, and more social.

Many seasoned media vets sat on the sidelines watching countless online startups come and go. A few of the major studios and networks tried early online offspring like HBO (This Just In), Turner (Super Deluxe), NBC (Dot Comedy)… but they all got in and got out quickly during the first wave of online video.

The thermonuclear recession didn’t help any dream-chasers starting companies between 2006-2008. We knew the road would be long and hard. We didn’t know we’d be staring down an economic disaster at the same time we were doing all this pioneering. But those of us who learned how to survive the worst of times are much stronger and more determined to strive and win now.

Our company is profitable in 2013. The moment we banked on is finally here when some of the best original entertainment is premiering on native digital domains. Big money is backing companies best capable of creating original series that inspire and engage mass audiences in the new renaissance online.

We’re re-energized to see original series funded by Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, MSN, Yahoo, AOL, and Blip. Some of these new series are becoming a part of the everyday media dialogue — winning large audiences, and well-deserved awards, and nominations alongside their television cousins. The level playing field we once wished for between the old school and the new school is a reality becoming more clear by the minute. When more online series start capturing the loyalty and respect of cable’s biggest hits, more subscription models will experiment and succeed.

The second act for online video still hasn’t solved one of its biggest problems from the start. Discovering the best video still means surfing through deepening seas of endless choice. We’re working with premium partners to fund our best original series and we’re also working on better programming solutions beyond search. The best shows still needs push, promotion, and marketing from human hands, hearts, and minds to help find their largest audiences live and on-demand.

The early days of cable television are just beginning to reincarnate on the Internet. Trusted TV creators, series, and networks own a place in your mind because they consistently deliver programming that meets and exceeds your expectations. We’re still in the early innings of the baseball game called online video — but the winners will be players who know how to effectively program the best original content and players who know how to build brands and new networks that own respected real estate in your mind.

Six years adds up to many more “internet years” for any young company. My deepest thanks and respect go to everyone who puts work, time, ideas, money and support into My Damn Channel. We’re forever grateful to our families, friends, artists, fans, staffers, backers, sponsors, and business partners who continue to help us build. We’re honored to be in an industry surrounded by smart, brave souls seizing the moment when more of the best original series are premiering inside Online Video’s Second Act.

Rob Barnett is the founder/CEO of My Damn Channel. Follow him on Twitter @DamnRob. This post originally appeared on My Damn Channel’s Night Feed blog and has been reprinted here with his permission.

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