NATPE Voices: The Biggest Online Video Story of 2013

/ Jan 20, 2014

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As part of VideoInk’s media partnership with NATPE for the NATPE || Miami 2014 conference from January 27-29, we are rolling out a custom, panel-style Q&A series this week called “NATPE Voices.” We canvassed a broad collection of smart people on the NATPE board, or scheduled to speak during the conference next week, to get their thoughts on various aspects of the industry. We will publish their answers, for one question per day, through Sunday. Enjoy.

What was the biggest online video story of 2013, and what did it say about the emerging marketplace for made-for-web digital programming?

Michael Kassan, Chairman and CEO, MediaLink:

“The biggest story of last year misses the point. The most important thing in online video is the continuing secular trend of increasing budgets moving to online video. It embodies evolving consumer behavior, reflects the great work content creators like Machinima, Maker [Studios], CNE, and AwesomenessTV are doing, the programming prowess of Netflix, the power of the YouTube platform, the power of higher networks speeds…the list goes on and on. It’s not a story…it’s the story.”

Dan Goodman, Co-Founder, Believe Entertainment Group:

“That now IAB runs the Newfronts for digital video. I felt like this year [the event] turned a corner in terms of interest, attendance, and dialogue. I think it also underscores the convergence around TV and the interest in applying similar metrics to the digital space to spark growth. We need to push the Newfronts closer to a transactional process more akin to the TV world to drive further growth.”

Lori Schwartz, Managing Partner, StoryTech:

“The biggest ‘trend’ in online video for 2013 was the move by many MCNs and content creators to explore distribution opportunities outside of the YouTube ecosystem.

This was led by a number of big industry insiders, including some very high-profile YouTube stars, in an effort to lay some blows against the monopoly of YouTube’s network-building and distribution prowess. For example, Maker Studios bought Blip to expand its distribution capabilities and move beyond YouTube.

In a way, we also saw YouTube fight back, inserting new systems and regulations in place focusing on the relationship between networks and its creators. It’s a very interesting ping-pong game, and there’s no clear end in sight. But in my opinion, it’s always better to have more than one game in town.”

Jordan Levin, Defy Media:

“There is little doubt that the success experienced by Netflix with ‘House of Cards’ was seminal.  The resulting Emmy and WGA nominations (among others) reinforced the emerging sentiment that television is no longer defined by a media platform, but instead by a form of storytelling regardless of distribution mechanism or screen.”

Larry Tanz, CEO, Vuguru:

“I estimate that over $200 million was put into premium scripted originals on the SVOD platforms (‘House of Cards,’ ‘Orange is The New Black’) just over the past year. That’s a game changer, as well as their critical embrace by established content creators (e.g. Netflix’s multiple Emmy nominations, and subsequent win for David Fincher as Best Director). The distinction between a network and platform will continue to erode in 2014.”

Ezra Cooperstein, COO, Fullscreen:

“‘House of Cards’ and Awesomeness TV.

Both examples demonstrated that there was an appetite for premium original content outside of the traditional programming model. Most people understand the success story that is ‘House of Cards,’ but may overlook AwesomenessTV, which was a smart acquisition for DreamWorks Animation. DreamWorks is looking ahead and betting heavily on online video as a space where the studio wants to further develop a strong foothold. While AwesomenessTV is certainly creating great content today, its acquisition by DreamWorks Animation is truly an investment in future opportunities.”

Erin McPherson, Chief Content Officer, Maker Studios:

“The acquisition of AwesomenessTV by DreamWorks was a huge story in 2013, not only on its own merits, but also as a bellwether for the continued convergence of digital and traditional media programming. For anyone under 30, ‘made for web’ is the new mainstream. Great storytelling is no longer bound by the strictures of traditional length or customary release schedules. It’s a world that is both accessible and thrilling for creators of all kinds.”

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