How to Succeed and Fail at Online (News) Video

/ Aug 13, 2013


At VidCon I moderated an Industry Day panel titled “Make Online Media Make Sense,” the goal being to help television networks, producers, and traditional media brands understand the rules of online video, and how they differ from what they are used to on television. The idea was that most of the traditional media crowd does not understand what works when creating content for the web — how it’s more of a two-way experience between the creator and the viewer, how you can’t rely on brand name alone, and how social media and marketing are vital to success.

Fun discussion. But it resembled something I’ve been hearing over the past couple of months — that there are many traditional media vets (network executives, producers, other insiders) who make the leap to digital without really knowing what they’re getting into. It’s difficult to quantify how prevalent this is on a large scale. But within a particular vertical and type of content? Maybe it’s possible to see the methods that lead to success or failure.

Which brings me to online news video, a category that’s been growing over the past year with the rise of digital news providers like NowThis News, Newsy, and Buzz60, not to mention the creation of old-media/new-media partnerships like CNN BuzzFeed and the impressive success of YouTube newspeople like Philip DeFranco and the SourceFed team. It seems like as good a category as any to see who is succeeding and why, and who hasn’t and why.

As you’ll see in the mini-profiles of NowThis News, SourceFed, and One Minute News that follow, there is no one secret recipe to ensuring success in news video content. That said, there are several “essentials” that news producers absolutely need to follow, some of which may seem obvious: be quick and topical, be multi-platform, offer commentary that goes beyond regurgitating the info, hire engaging personalities, and make sure they actually engage with the audience.

NowThis News: Adapting to the Audience

SourceFed: Be Quick, Have a Personality

One Minute News: Slow News, No Growth

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