Hulu may not represent the future of online video. MySpace is blowing a golden opportunity to dominate the space. Pre-roll ads are not the answer. And the Internet may eventually produce hit series that reach bigger audiences than TV ever has.
Those were just some of the opinions shared by former Disney CEO and current Web video pioneer Michael Eisner, who headlined a forum hosted by Veoh Networks on Tuesday (Oct. 7) in New York. During a colorful interview session held in a basement theater of the Helen Mills theater in New York, Eisner, whose digital studio Vuguru has produced Web originals
such as Prom Queen and Foreign Body, tackled a wide range of hot topics facing the nascent industry.
Regarding Hulu, the widely praised hub for professional video launched as a joint venture by News Corp and NBC Universal, Eisner praised the site's technology and design, but wondered about its long-term impact. "I'm not sure if its the end game," he said. "It's more middle game....It makes NBC and Fox think they are in new media. I'm not sure if its the right thing."
Eisner also tweaked News Corp once again, when he knocked Prom Queen partner MySpace for squandering what he sees as an opportunity for the site's video channel to catch and surpass category giant YouTube. "They aren't taking advantage [of MySpace]," he said. "They could dominate online video if they figured out how to do it...they aren't
Eisner said he was also surprised that MySpace didn't look to partner with Vuguru again after the two companies partnered to launch Prom Queen. Yet he was equally blunt about that teen soap, which called a "stupid little show"--a show which pulled in "tiny, infinitesimal"
Still, Eisner joked that he was able to keep costs low for such shows by hiring "more waiters than anybody." Those waiters are affordable because they are "non-union."
But while Prom Queen's impact on the American media landscape is debateable, Eisner dismissed those in the industry who claim that Web video will never be about big hits. "I'm not sure I agree with that," he said. He instead foresees the right show--because of the ubiquity
of computers-- reaching a global audience that is "so much bigger than anything that's been on broadcast."
As for what advertising will look like when and if online video series reach that level of popularity, Eisner hopes the pre-roll 30-second spot will be long gone. He said that video spots which run 15 seconds or less feel right, particularly for short form content. Bluntly, he
called sitting through 30s prior to such clips "annoying as hell."