The Future of Original Web Video Programming

Perhaps the single biggest takeaway from the 2012 TV Summit is that Yahoo is trying REALLY hard to drum up Hollywood awareness of its new video content production strategy. The website sponsored the event and the Yahoo logo was front and center everywhere.

“We’ve got eight out of 10 people online touching” said Yahoo’s VP of  originals & video programming Erin McPherson in a new-media panel discussion.  “We call ourselves the ‘fifth network.’ That’s aspriational. But we’re TV on steroids. We’re creating a TV consumer experience but adding social and mobile.”

They’re also creating some nice swag. I was given not one, but two shiny blue Yahoo pens from a booth inside the  Summit. Very nice.

Shiny swag or no, the invisible elephant inside the room was Google. What are its plans for video content? Google reps weren’t around to answer that question and AOL and Yahoo got awfully sad and frowny when it was posed to them. Thankfully for the slightly lesser Internet behemoths, everyone else’s best guess seemed to be that Google was primarily looking to be a curator of online video content… for now.

That said, even though Yahoo has done some nice work with Bill Maher, Morgan Spurlock and Tom Hanks, this Fishie had to sit through an astonishing amount of talk about “branded content.” I get that websites need to figure out way to monetize high-production-cost video content. But the brave new world of online programming sure seems like a place that gets its rocks off programming advertainment for American Express. If that’s the case, long live cable. Or Google, for that matter. Because we’re guessing when they really start to get into original content, they’ll be smart enough to know that shit ain’t gonna fly forever.

As for those aforementioned TV and Cable folks, it was interesting to note that almost all seemed terrified of Netflix and its move into content production. “Frienemy” is how USA Network’s Co-President Jeff Wachtel described Netflix. Friend for Netflix’s ability to throw the networks unexpected revenue that could have  previously only come from syndication. Enemy for the fact that Netflix has the resources to distribute its original content online, on TV and through the Xbox in insanely quick and cheap fashion.

That about does it for FishbowlLA’s coverage of the 2012 TV Summit. Thanks to Variety and the Television Academy Foundation for letting us roam the hallways and eat their food. It was a blast.

Photo by McCarten

From left: Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Executive Director Norma Provencio Pichardo,TV Editor, Variety, Andrew Wallenstein, VP & Head, Originals & Video Programming, Yahoo! Erin McPherson, Head of Development and Current Programming, Mark Burnett Productions David Eilenberg, Head of Original Video, Huffington Post Streaming Network & AOL Studios Gabriel Lewis, VP, Original Content & Programming VEVO Scott Reich and VP, Digital Content, Strategy, Magical Elves Ashley Kaplan and Chairman, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation, Jerry Petry