ABC News not alone in Web video struggles

John Shinal · June 11, 2008 · Short URL:

ABC World News WebcastIf you saw our interview last week with Revision3 CEO Jim Louderback, the news today that is going to scrap the current format for its World News Webcast wouldn't have been a big surprise.

As Jim astutely pointed out, what works on TV doesn't work on the Web, for the simple fact that the two are different media.

They also have different audiences with very different tastes. Most of the folks still watching nightly news programs are older folks who like to bond with an anchor who can walk them through the top stories of the day.

On the Web, meanwhile, you've got the 35-and-under set using multiple feeds and multiple Web sites to uncover stories of interest to their individual tastes. It is narrowcasting taken to the extreme, something CEO Kevin Bromber told us months ago, when he also predicted that the Web sites of newspapers, TV networks and magazines would have little in common with their offline parents. 

ABC says it's not abandoning its online news experiment of two years, but will instead re-think it. Given that most of the folks debating what to do have spent their careers in television, it may require an infusion of fresh blood to get this right.

This is what CBS did in buying CNet. It not only got eyeballs on premium content sites, it gets a couple thousand employees who have spent years trying to figure out what does and doesn't work online.

There's a reason this whole phenomenon we're watching unfold is called Web 2.0 -- it's a reply of the dotcom era, in some respects.

Back then, it was old, traditional media companies trying to find out how to get their (mostly) print and photo content online. The failed AOL-Time Warner merger is the poster child for how poorly most of those efforts turned out.

Today, having gotten a big wake-up call from YouTube and its billions of monthly page views, the media companies are all about Web video. The problem, as ABC found, is that it's not in their corporate DNA, and you can't just port content from television to the Web. 

ABC isn't alone, of course, magazine publishers are also trying to figure out what to create Web video content that they can sell ads against.





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