Is there money in mid-tail content?

Bambi Francisco Roizen · July 14, 2008 · Short URL:

A look at what 'live' and niche programming grow up to be

In this week’s episode, we look at Ustream, which provides a live, interactive broadcast platform to anyone who wants their 15 minutes of fame, and Le Gourmet Tv, a niche channel for food lovers. While they're both different businesses, they're both betting on the mid-tail of content. So, we wanted to look at new entertainment models disrupting the traditional news and entertainment industry, and discuss where the money is to be made in ''live" and niche programming. For instance, will off-off-off-off Broadway shows or amateur versions of Saturday Night Live be more popular than a bunch of C-Span shows covering church services or our children's plays? Our round table of experts have different opinions.

This week, Chris Tolles, CEO of Topix, and Ezra Roizen, digital media investment banker and VB regular and John Shinal, Vator managing editor, helped me analyze and review these two companies, and their industries.   

We started with Ustream, whose service definitely extends the blogging and v-logging trend, as well as the commenting trend whereby stories are dialogues and interactive. It is a combination of NowLive, for live streaming, and Seesmic, which is a video Twitter. Ustream is betting on the proliferation of millions of new voices emerging and creating their own talk shows. Think, millions of "Oprahs."

(Note: Chris Yeh is an angel investor and CEO at the time the Ustream video pitch was uploaded. He is in the Ustream video. Chuck Wallace was appointed CEO late last year.)

Ezra pointed out that Ustream will probably end up being a C-Span of Little League baseball and church services. He saw UStream as a useful platform to power the long tail of live content. I saw Ustream powering a bunch of little talk shows, which will one day produce tomorrow's Oprah, or enabling a bunch of episodics. We're already seeing producers of live programming emerge, like, which produces episodics and airs them live at a particular time. I could see sites like CrushTV also using a live component in their shows.

But we all agreed that focusing on these tiny sites won't drive this business.

John suggested that Ustream focus on selling its platform to big media companies, much like NowLive's business model.

Chris, who’s not shy with his thoughts, was not convinced that Ustream had any compelling technology that big media companies would want, nor did Chris think that live programming was entertaining, useful or in demand. 

We also looked at Le Gourmet TV, which Chris said was a far more interesting model because the startup costs could be low and the advertisers were obvious. After three to five years, a company like this could probably sell itself for $10 million to $20 million. I agree. Just take a look at, a mid-tail site focused on digital media. It just sold for $30 million. Ezra and I both agreed that the company could probably raise a couple hundred thousand and grow its audience and then be sold to the Food Channel. There are a number of niche content sites appearing on Vator, such as TasteTV,, Vanuato TV, and Dadlabs, a channel for fathers.  

We definitely covered a lot of ground with these companies and their respective industries. I'm not giving it all away, so you'll just have to watch.

(Note: If you want to be on Vator Box, just get your friends to nominate you via the comment section. And, remember, if you disagree with what we have to say - which wouldn't be surprising - we welcome your opinions and feedback.)


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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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Le Gourmet TV


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Le Gourmet TV is a gathering place for foodies!

We produce HD broadcast quality branded content about food, wine, spirits and cooking. We reach highly motivated consumers who are looking for information on products in these areas.


Our content is placed on our own video on demand website; then it is hyper-syndicated to every video portal that we can find. This means that our content is available to anyone who is searching the web for food and beverage info.


Initial clients are kitchen appliance  manufacturers, vintners, distillers, and food producers. who want their brand messages integrated into the content.



Joined Vator on

People share their opinion on any topic in video. There is a social software layer, much like Twitter, to follow the conversation. Loic calls it the "CNN of my friends."

There are 2,000 videos posted per day with only 1,500 people subscribed to the stealth site. 



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NowLive operates as a media network and technology platform for live interactive shows. The company's innovative Social Broadcasting platform eliminates the cost and complexity of creating and distributing live broadcasts that have kept "big" media companies in control of the $180b a year market. The platform's elegant integration of social networking elements allows these live broadcasts to become highly interactive social events for the audience and hosts. Since launching in March 2007, the company has proved user demand, scalability and integration of the platform and has now clarified its business model.




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Ustream.TV is the live interactive video broadcast platform that enables anyone with a camera and an Internet connection to quickly and easily broadcast to a global audience of unlimited size.

In less than two minutes, anyone can become a broadcaster by creating their own channel on Ustream or by broadcasting through their own site, empowering them to engage with their audience and further build their brand. Click here to start a broadcast now or learn more about broadcasting.

Ustream's one-to-many live interactive video encourages broadcast-to-viewer and viewer-to-viewer interaction, empowering a much more engaging experience for everyone involved.

With Ustream's interactive broadcast functionality, viewers can personally interact directly with whoever is broadcasting -- including personalities like their favorite musician or politician. Ustream viewers can watch specific broadcasts, explore our networks ranging from music, talk shows, sports and politics to discover a world of interesting new broadcasts, or review our past broadcasts.

Ustream opens up a new world of possibilities and experiences to broadcasters and viewers alike, which the pre-recorded static video that's predominated the Internet to date just can't provide. Today, people are Ustreaming everything including:


Ezra Roizen

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Advisor-to and commenter-on emerging ventures

John Shinal

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Chris Tolles

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

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Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.