Take Down That Wall…


….looks like we need better barriers to entry….

Yesterday Ken and I spent a fair amount of time in the offices of one of the major VC groups in the country.

We are trying to raise money for a kind of online videojournalist’s channel – a place where any journalist with a camera and a story to tell could post their work and get compensated in direct proportion to the number of hits their work received. A kind of eBay for news and ideas.

We think its a pretty cool idea. And so do most of the people we talk to. They only have one question: what is the barrier to entry.

That is, if the idea worked, what then would prevent someone else from coming along and building exactly the same kind of thing? Well, of course, there is not lots you can do to stop that kind of thing. Also, what would keep your best people interested in staying with you?

These are good questions, the ‘barrier to entry’ questions.

I don’t have such good answers.

Because the technology that is democratizing the ability to ‘make’ things is also democratizing the ability to distribute them.

This is a very big change.

In the not too distant past, (like yesterday), there were enormous ‘barriers to entry’ in the media. ABC had a piece of the electromagnetic spectrum, you didn’t. If you wanted to get content into people’s homes, you had to deal with ABC. Or CBS.

When cable came along, a few more players were allowed into the party, but not many. The barriers to entry were still pretty strong.

If you wanted to get content or a message or news or advertising into people’s homes, you now had to deal with ABC or Comcast. Pay or no play. They held the keys.

Suddenly, the web makes it possible for anyone to get into everyone’s home.

This is confusing.

Now anyone can, effectively do what once only Bill Paley could do.

The barriers keep falling.

This will take time, but it is happening.

One of the clearest signs that it is happening is the sale of local TV stations. Lots of them are suddenly on the market.

Today, Fox announced that they were putting nine of their 35 stations on the block for sale:

– WJW in Cleveland, OH
– KDVR in Denver, CO
– KTVI in St. Louis, MO
– WDAF in Kansas City, KS
– WITI in Milwaukee, WI
– KSTU in Salt Lake City, UT
– WBRC in Birmingham, AL
– WHBQ in Memphis, TN
– WGHP in Greensboro, NC

They join the ranks of CBS and NY Times who already sold off their stations. Lostremote reports that both Nexstar and Lin are going to put some of their stations up for sale as well.

Owning a TV station used to be a license to print money. You had something no one else (or almost no one else) had: access to people’s homes.

Those days are now over. Technology has blown away the ‘barrier to entry’. (“Mister Berners-Lee, take down that wall!”)

So the smart money is dumping out as fast as they can.

But where will they go?

How can one make money when there are clearly no longer any barriers to entry?

What ‘barriers to entry’ meant, really, was that you could pretty much provide any junk you wanted and people had to take it. They had no choice. We lived in a kind of intellectual content desert.

Now, we are going to be in the opposite world – flooded with content.

Where is the value?

Rupert Murdoch, no dope, seems to be telling us in his play for The Wall Street Journal.

As the barriers fall, the value is going to be in quality.


25 responses to “Take Down That Wall…

  1. I agree, as the barriers are moved, the value will be in quality. What you may miss is the barriers will probably be under the control of the same people who control them now. Some folks will set up servers and try to show their work but without the ad money and other media outlets to help promote their web offerings, they will fail.

    Even in your own posts you admit you have no clue how to protect your ideas or to generate money from them. The answer has already been found. Just the web is not enough. The web has to be in conjunction with an existing business model which, through shared profits, allows both to survive.

    Careful Mr. Rosenblum. Once again you talk of “junk” product while being so proud of the Brazilian Wax Job story. Is that going on the 5 Takes travel show? Is that going on the web? Is that not “junk” in the eyes of so many?

    No money and still producing “junk”. Doesn’t seem like you’re headed in the right direction yet.

  2. yes, craigslist is a shining example of how “the web is not enough. The web has to be in conjunction…blah,blah,blah”.

    ebay, yahoo, google also fall into that category…doubt they’ll survive in minime’s mind.

  3. Seeing you compare craigslist to anything, especially when one supposedly wants to address quality and credibility, says so much about your point of view.

  4. You are comparing shoes stores to movie theaters when you compare ebay and the others you spout.

    The focus here is delivery of a video product to the masses and still making a buck to pay bills.

    Not sell shoes and then mail them to the customer.

    Last I checked Yahoo isn’t paying a dime to anyone to post their video on the web. Niether is Google or youtube.

    Try again.

  5. i am talking about quality minime.

    i recently sold a beautiful mini van on craigslist in less than 1 day. i put it up “for sale” at 10pm and it was driven off my drive by noon the following day…cash in hand.

    see how technology has improved the QUALITY of classified ads?

    the traditional classified wouldn’t have even “hit the street” for probably 2 more days.

    this is what technology is going to do to video delivery too. but you can’t see it.

    you are the traditional classifieds; endangered.

    that’s quite apples to apples, minime.

  6. and i think the “focus here is on the delivery of a video product” to the NICHES, not the masses.

    but that’s the difference between us.

  7. the barriers to entry may have fallen but the barriers to profitability are still in tact. And they are a lot faster to erect than they ever were in the past.

    It took youtube a few months to make themselves impregnable even to a concerted assault by Google.

    Your suggestion sounds like a youtube for vjs. But many people (including the US military) are already using youtube to post news clips.

    How about a clearing house where vjs can post clips for news outlets to bid on? Even blah clips – Virginia Tech classrooms – can have significant value if they can be distributed fast enough.

  8. You almost have to create niches out there nowadays. Figure out something that no one is doing in your market , if that’s actually possible.

    That’s what I’m trying to do in Birmingham – The Terminal is my attempt to see just what do people want, even if it is taking a vehicle that exists and modifying it. Hopefully it works, after the kinks get worked out.

  9. Michael, I think that’s a great idea, finally VJs stand a chance for someone to see their work, considering that everything else has failed. One thing that you did not mention, will VJs be able to post their work for free? Or will this be another way for you to siphon money out of these poor guys.

    I’m sure that everybody realizes that this is nothing more that a desperate last attempt to promote your VJs. Soon or later you’ll have to admit that your whole VJ idea will be remembered as one of the worst failure in television history. None of your predictions came thru and you’ve been running away from any question regarding those predictions that you made five years ago.

    You see Michael, it could have been something good but you screwed up royally. You came in all cocky telling the world that your VJ system was better than anything else. You either have no clue of what quality is, and I find that hard to believe or you thought that everybody out there is stupid and can’t tell the difference between good and bad quality. I still can’t figure what prompted you to make those stupid statements back then. Your initial marketing approach also proves that you have no knowledge of business whatsoever and let me tell you why. You see, by saying that VJs are better than conventional video you have to dedicate all your resources just to prove that indeed it is better; something that you have not bee able to do because it is not better. Once you were not able to back up your early statements you lost you credibility and that was a fatal blow to your entire system. Now, if you had been less arrogant and tell that the VJ was something new and different, (and BTW, “new” and “different” are two big words in marketing and advertising) you wouldn’t have to prove anything, people would accept it as something new and different, very simple isn’t it. New and different have nothing to be compared to and you would have had a good run and perhaps make it a real success as an alternative and not as a replacement. Remember Michael, you own over-inflated ego is what will lead to the ultimate demise of the VJ system, what a shame.

    I know that you will not publish this, but in that case I can always post it on other forums.

  10. Hi Nino
    As you can see I have no problem posting your comments here. However, as an Italian you should know that the plural of forum is fora. 🙂

  11. Hey!
    That VC channel was my idea!!! Well, I probably didn’t think of it first, but I was planning on doing just that. I like the idea of a newsdesk being able to subscribe to an rss feed, and when a local story pops up, he can preview it and buy it right off the site. He (or she) could also subscribe to feeds from various bloggers(Andy Rooney was a vlogger, wasn’t he? Who took his spot?), or national stories, or stories tagged by country, etc. No more calling in to anywhere and trying to sell a story. The editor can watch the whole story or a quick preview, and he’s out nothing. The more stuff he buys and uses, the more he’ll use it. That will get the local VJ community a push to keep producing quality content on a regular enough basis for it to make money.

    Any editor could simply subscribe to the feed and would see fresh stuff in his browser. When he sees a guy he doesn’t like he clicks on the “don’t show me this guy again” link; or he could click on the “more like this” link.

    The VJ can show off his work without having to pay to advertise, and will be rewarded based on his volume and quality. Webmasters could also purchase the content.

    I have a slight twist on the idea – kind of like a human google – that is, VJ’s uploading a story would have to spend a few minutes doing “peer review” of other stories and giving them ratings. The best stuff floats to the top, a-la digg, but you still have the flexibility to simply type in your zip code and have all the available stories since time x, or with the tags you want. But here’s where it gets even more like google: when a highly rated VJ rates something, his rating is weighted a little higher than others when he rates something, and you aren’t depending on hit count, as does brightcove or youtube.

    If a market didn’t want to pay for exclusivity, that market’s material could be browseable by the public, who could also rate the content, thus adding proof to the editors that the stuff is being watched and by who and how much they liked it.

    If, however, y’all make an old Yahoo!, I’ll be behind you coding up a good google and I’ll be one of those .com millionaires with a Ferrari. I’ll let you know where to send the royalty checks for my ranking ideas 🙂


  12. Actually if I remember those few dreadful years that I had to study Latin, Forum was a square (piazza) designated for people to assemble in order to conduct business or engage in public discussions and that’s probably why we call our discussion groups Forums.

    I don’t think “Fora” is a proper Italian word, it is however a word used in many dialects meaning “out or outside” the correct spelling or pronunciation would be “fuori”. The Italian translation of the Latin word Forum is Foro (singular) or Fori (plural) Foro or fora could also mean a “hole” or making a hole in many Italian dialects.

    Now that we got that one out of the way, are you going to charge VJs to be on this new planned VJ’s video channel?

  13. The plural of the Latin forum is fora.
    and, no the VJs dont pay to post. On the contrary, they get paid.

  14. i always wondered why that one brand of condums was named FORUM…. the definition nino gives near the end pretty much cleared that up.

    thanks, nino!

  15. Delivery of the product to a niche audience only lasts as long as the actual number of members in that audience supply a revenue base. To narrow a niche and there isn’t enough dollars to sustain a product.

    As of this date.

    youtube pays no one for putting their videos on their site. The only one to make any money is youtube. Not one single VJ makes a cent there.

    Of course the military and others are USING the service. But they aren’t making any money for themselves off of it. That’s the difference.

    The same goes for anyone who posts anything on youtube, yahoo or google. Good luck to anyone who thinks they can make a buck by producing a video product and then posting it on youtube.

    To claim selling a van on craigslist equals producing a video product and making money off of people viewing said product is the same thing. Well, your future as a used car salesman is set. You have a long way to go before you understand other aspects of the business world.

    I have no interest in how you sold your used car. I prefer video with moving sound and pictures to go with it. Not to mention a paycheck in my own pocket, not just someone elses, for my hard work.

  16. Rosenblum is producing a series on the Travel Channel called “What’s Your Trip?” that does pay for video that’s used on the show. The pilot ran a few weeks ago and every person (including a few VJs) whose video was included was paid.

  17. That’s my point Steve. It doesn’t happen with just a web presence alone. The only way to make it happen is for some other source of revenue to pay the way. In this case and many others, existing broadcast companies producing material for their air and using the web as an additional platform even though it doesn’t generate money by itself.

    The web is an ad on. Not a focus or stand alone entity generating revenue. In the future that may change. It has not yet and, even as Mr. Rosenblum admits, they haven’t figured out a way to make it work to pay for itself.

    At this point, who is going to pay anything for a subscription to see web only video? A small screen with lesser quality material when broadcast television and cable already have a better product out there. There will be a transition of revenue at some point. Or more sharing but to those who think the web is going to kill TV, you’re being unrealistic. Right now and for some time to come, the web needs TV more than TV needs the web. However television has a way to re-purpose their existing product. It adds money to their coffers as well as expanding their already well known reputation. Individual VJ offerings will continue to be shown and seen for free on places like youtube. No money out of pocket for viewers, or in-pocket for VJs there!

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  19. Monetization is always the issue with the web, at the moment, but it is something that will, over time, be worked out. My guess is that it is going to happen in ways that are less conventional then we think. For example, (and this is really just a guess, but I think not a bad one), once there is full broadband capability, were I NIKE, for example, instead of buying lots of ads on The World Series, it might be better for me simply to buy the rights to the world series. Then, if you want to watch it, you have to go to Nike.com. No other choice. Also no need for ads, but rather have the whole tbing nested amidst a plethora of click and buy spots. Maybe Pfizer is better off paying for ER than buying commercial spots (probably cheaper in the long run anyway). I think the notion of linear ‘channels’ is going to go. But these things take time. We are in a very transitional moment, a very fluid moment. The reason so much money is being dumped into web based video (which is not yet monetized) and so many local tv stations are being sold (which are monetized) is because those who can see the long trend are gearing up.

  20. The distinction between the web and broadcast television is already breaking down. Look at AppleTV. Apple would not have put all that R&D into a product roll out if they were not certain that putting web video onto large screens is going to be big.

    “What’s Your Trip” is a successful integration of web and broadcast television. You have to submit video on the web, and videos not chosen for the show are played on the web. People not chosen for their first video are generally glad to have an outlet for it to be shown, and can send in more videos for future consideration. This is still Generation 1 of web video, and it’s evolving on a daily basis.

    Every player in television is scrambling to figure out how to monetize the web. While this shakes out, producers (and VJs) will continue to make a living where they can, which right now is still mostly on broadcast television. But the smart producers know that it won’t be long before they will start making money with video on the web, and they’re getting ready.

    Take a look at the focus that the writers, producers, directors and talent unions are putting on “New Media”. They know that they have to get deals in place for web/mobile/podcast use or they will become obsolete.

  21. Reading the ENG rantings about Michael siphoning money only reaffirms my belief that this is a tactic of FUD on the ENG’s part.

    The market is wide open, the playing field has been leveled. The exclusive club of TV shooters is no longer exclusive – seems to me that as we develop, adapt and refine a business model, that things will become much different than what the old school shooters are use to.

    And that scares the old school ENG shooters.

    To deny it is refuted by the constant derisive comments against the Solo VJ paradigm and Michael in particular. On the one hand, they say they welcome competition, on the other, they rant about how Solo VJ’s diminish the craft.

    Which is it folks?

    At least Michael is making a concerted attempt at trying to develop a business model for Solo VJ’s posting their work and getting paid for it. And your contribution to the contrary is???

    All I read are the repetitive monotonous rantings from the ENG types stating “You won’t make this happen – we know what we’re doing – you Solo VJ wannabe’s don’t” blah blah blah…

    To me that is elitist arrogance and only pushes me even more to prove to myself and myself only that the constant FUD attacks are misguided. The web is only one of many vehicles by which to distribute content – not the only one.

    Claudio Van Planta’s work is proof that it can be done – and be done at a level that makes broadcast standards – and can be distributed via multiple venues.

    Change or do not change – either way, the business is changing and we Solo VJ’s will accomplish more than the old school crew type shooters could ever accomplish – and be competitive in the process.

  22. Thanks Cliff. More insight from someone who won’t even put themselves into the game.

    Maybe someday you’ll actually do something. You have not accomplished anything. You are doing nothing. Meanwhile those of us in the “old school” are busy making the transition and actually getting a regular paycheck to do it.

    For you it’s still hobby time.

    Until you can do something besides enjoy your hobby, I suggest you keep the day job so you don’t starve.

  23. Cliff, first of all I’m not an ENG photographer but an EFP photographer, big difference.

    Also you might one day understand that all the arguing that I’ve been doing with Michaels was for your benefits not mine. This business has been very good to me, if I would have to stop working tomorrow wouldn’t be any financial loss at all, I keep doing this job because I really enjoy what I’m doing and with every assignment I challenge myself to be better of what I did yesterday but not as good as what I’ll do tomorrow.

    My main goal now is to teach others in this business how to achieve the highest level of success within one’s capabilities, and trust me, VJs is not it. It can be part of it, but it’s not it.

    You see, when I was young and just starting in this business some mentors took me under their wings and showed me the right way to become successful and honest, and thanks to those guys that are no longer with us I was able to achieve every goals in my career. Now as a tribute to them it’s my turn to do the same, thats’ why of EFPlighting.com.

    You can take my suggestions anyway you want to. If you are satisfied of the current demand for your services then stay where you are, that means that you have achieved your goal.

    And lastly, if the work that I’ve seen so far is any indication of what VJ is all about it, do yourself a favor and don’t even think that you are a threat to anyone. My suggestion is to go back to the books and learn to do it right, you might even stand a chance one day to make some money.

    Hi Michael, ready to hit the delete button? Go for it man.

  24. Nice come back Min!-Me.

    How long did it take for you to come up with that adolescent response??? You must really be working hard on those great investigative assignments if you have time to post here.

    Nino – you state in your comment: “I challenge myself to be better of what I did yesterday but not as good as what I’ll do tomorrow.” So why is that any different for someone like myself? What gives you the special privilege of having that option but someone like myself who is CHOOSING to go the Solo VJ route is wrong?

    Talk about hypocritical. You say you welcome the Solo VJ’s with open arms, yet you act condescending when we Solo VJ’s come to this site to encourage and support one another – because we see things differently.

    Min!-Me is so uptight about this paradigm now that he thinks he’s better than someone like myself. Get over yourselves. You haven’t done anything to make me believe one iota that your way is the so called “Right Way”.

    Michael has answered every question I have asked of him with professional courtesy and civility. Yet to even try to get any type of helpful answer from Michael’s detractors only comes with derisive remarks.

    So you tell me which way someone would turn given those two options.

    I think the answer speaks for itself.

  25. Poor Cliff,

    A resume full of classes and seminars attended. Then a quick trip to his web site to see any of his visual efforts posted only proves one thing.

    Cliff was asleep the entire time he was “learning”.

    Here’s a basic hint to help you on your way to actual employment Cliff.

    When using a tripod, try and level it. The interview with the singer was sad to watch. Not because of what she said but how you shot it. Lazy. Any high school kid would have done better. Then you edit together something so boring, with so little visual imagination, it’s when I see this compared to your confident words I am assured you are like many others who think buying a piece of equipment equals skills and ability with said piece of equipment.

    What you take as unfair criticism here is actually people trying to get you headed in the right direction where your efforts might actually lead to some form of success. Instead you are too caught up in defending yourself and others who have no clue about business or visual story telling.

    Quick final list of hints Cliff.

    Learn what a cutaway is and then actually shoot more than one for a three plus minute piece.

    Learn about transitions. How and when they are used.

    Learn what a jump cut is and how it works and doesn’t work when trying to communicate your message to a viewer.

    Work on basic tripod use. You don’t have to use it all the time but when you do, it’s a good idea to do it right and not embarrass yourself when the key interview of your piece looks like it was shot by a grade school AV student.

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