A VidCon Beyond YouTube
VidCon is welcoming to everyone interested in online video, according to Hank Green, who created the annual event alongside his brother John. “VidCon’s goal is to be a reflection of online video, both the culture and the industry,” he says. “So we are very excited to have pretty much everyone in the space represented one way or another” — from those simply attending to those sponsoring, participating in panels, or simply throwing parties.
It begs the question, as firmly entrenched as YouTube is within the VidCon community, how likely are other major online video companies — the AOLs, Hulus, and Yahoos — to get involved in the conference in a big way?
Not very likely, not right now. And this goes back to the community-oriented nature of both VidCon and YouTube.
“If you look at what Hank and John have built with VidCon, their focus is on the community of people who have aggregated around YouTube companies and stars,” says Revision3’s Jim Louderback. “What Hank had to say in his ‘open letter’ was interesting — he wants to build on YouTube, but wishes there were elements of the relationship were different.”
“If you look at the content that AOL, Hulu, and Yahoo are producing, it looks more like linear television than what is working on YouTube,” adds Cooperstein. “If they wanted to have a meaningful presence, they would sort of have to pick up on the characteristics that are driving success on YouTube, where the consumer is pretty much the programmer.” Which very well might happen, he adds, but would nonetheless feel out of place at VidCon.
AOL and Yahoo politely declined to comment for this story (which I think tells you enough about the interest those two companies have, at least right now, in VidCon).
What could work, and what we have been seeing, is other online video publishers coming to VidCon to search for talent.
For these companies, it’s important to explain how they would be able to help creators reach audiences that may not be on YouTube, according to Louderback. “Do it in an authentic way — you don’t want to be like ‘YouTube is bad, come to us because we’re good’ — explain to them how you can extend their reach,” he says. “That has real potential, and it’s already happening.”
“Blip showed up last year,” says Louderback. The company is very interested in working with YouTube stars and being part of the community, especially as YouTube stars look to expand beyond YouTube — all exemplified by Blip’s deal with Ray William Johnson.
Also, notably in the past six months, Conde Nast and Scripps Networks Interactive have entered the original online video fray, and both big media brands have reached out to the YouTube creator community to develop or star in new programs for their respective video networks.
AOL is no stranger to this either — the company’s Newfront slate included “Hardwired,” an original tech series starring Justine Ezarik, more commonly known as iJustine.
In this way, VidCon is more welcoming to the other online video companies, as well as the traditional media players. And going back to the earlier discussion on how VidCon might change in the future, it would make sense for companies like AOL, Blip, Conde Nast, and Yahoo — after having produced an original program featuring a YouTube star — to preview and promote those shows at VidCon.
The opportunity is definitely there for online video publishers to get involved with VidCon. “VidCon is three days of opportunities, our door is open to everyone who cares about online video,” says Green. The choice is entirely up to them.
As for YouTube? The site’s not going anywhere. Regardless of all the things creators and networks like to gripe about when it comes to YouTube, it’s still the biggest marketing platform available to creators and producers on the web. One day that might change, but not anytime soon — and even then, YouTube will probably maintain a significant presence in the web video industry.
VidCon 2013 begins tomorrow and runs through the weekend. Come back to VideoInk on the regular to check out a bunch of planned (and unplanned) coverage from the floor, the stage, and, yes, maybe even some of the parties.Tags: AOL, Blip, Ezra Cooperstein, Hank Green, Hulu, ijustine, Jim Louderback, John Green, Ray William Johnson, Vidcon, Yahoo!, youtube