Suggested Reading: Lessons Learned from YouTube's Channel Fund

The current situation of broadcast media is very similar to that of the post office. Fewer and fewer people find it useful or necessary and the people that do use it find it necessary and useful for fewer and fewer things. Currently the primary role of the Post Office, other than on major holidays, is to deliver junk mail and bills. Currently the role of broadcast media, other than at times of significant and developing news events, is to provide entertainment to people who haven't really gotten the hang of the whole internet thing yet.

Via Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing here is a postmortem  from one of the recipients of YouTube's $300 million dollar channel fund: It contains valuable insights for those who are producing content for the web as well as those who are still involved in terrestrial broadcasting and preparing to make the transition:

There were a lot of recipients of this money, and many of them were major media companies trying their hand at online video that received some fat checks, up to $5M a piece, to launch TV-like channels. What we all found out is that, no matter how hard you push them and how much money you spend on them, YouTube doesn’t work like TV…and funding it that way is daft.Of the 114 channels that YouTube funded as part of this initiative, my educated guess is that exactly one earned back its advance...Spending more money to produce the same number of minutes of content does not increase viewership. Online video isn’t about how good it looks, it’s about how good it is.

People who make online video are much better at making online video than people who make TV shows. This probably seems obvious to you (it certainly is to me) but it apparently was not obvious to the people originally distributing this money.

When advertising agencies tell you they want something (higher quality content, long-form content, specific demographics, lean-back content, stuff that looks like tv) it’s not our job to attempt to deliver those things. In a world where the user really does get to choose, the content created to satisfy the needs and wants of viewers (not advertisers) will always reign supreme (thankfully.)

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