Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Beet.TV Gets to The Root of the Media Revolution

Andy Plesser is Executive Producer, Founder and Publisher of Beet.TV, the 4-year old video blog that chronicles the online video and digital media revolution. Beet.TV features exclusive video interviews with executives from technology and media companies including Google, Microsoft, Cisco, The New York Times and Adobe to scores of start-ups, online video platforms as well as artists who are pioneering digital media innovation. I caught up with Andy at Streaming Media East 2010, where he talked about the launch of Beet.TV in 2006, Beet.TV's unique style of news reporting, how distribution and sponsorship has grown and his perspective on the state of online video today.

Beet.TV is generally recognized as the first business-oriented video blog publishing an average of two new videos per day. You can usually spot Andy or his West Coast correspondent and Senior Producer, Daisy Whitney and her husband Jeff Brooks at conferences and industry events, interviewing many of the shakers and movers in the online video industry. Today, there are some 1900 videos in the Beet.TV archives, and the videos can be seen all over the web embedded on technology blogs and news organizations including CNET News.com, The New York Times and Reuters News Service.

Beet.TV was launched in March 2006 by Andy Plesser as an offshoot of his PR firm Plesser Holland Associates, which has a variety of clients, including CBS Interactive, CNET.com, and various universities. Andy's background is in filmmaking and PR, and he said that his PR clients began to demand more and more TV, so he decided to build his own channel with videos of TV appearances and  interviews with clients he recorded, edited and uploaded to the web himself. His publishing platform at the time was VideoEgg and Typepad, and he called it PlessTV back then, which he he split off from the PR firm as a bona fide media company. Soon after, his coverage focused specifically on the emergence of online video and its impact on industry and society.

Andy spoke to Beet.TV's unique style of news reporting in this way:
"I don't see myself as a journalist, like someone at TechCrunch or CNET. I don't claim to compete with them. I have organized people as sort of a networker, if you will, creating salons. So, I have an idea of how to organize who is important, and who is a  player – and I organize those people – instead of in a room at a party or something, or as a conference – as sort of a one-on-one. But Beet.TV has always been very much of a salon, or a place where people see who is important – and that's really the vision of it. I've also found a way to break news by using video reporting, as opposed to text reporting which is kind of different. We provide just the context around the interview, but the real story and the news, is in the video reportage itself."
Andy believes in short-form content and Beet.TV videos generally range from 3-5 minutes each. He says that the web is snackable, and most business people looking for news really don't have a lot of time for long-form video content. Short snippets of important and relevant information under 5 minutes is Beet.TV's sweet spot.

In terms of where we are in the state of online video, Andy says that it's an exciting time that has changed dramatically over the last four years. Many businesses based on content creation and content aggregation have both emerged and fallen by the wayside in the short time.
"I think that there's been probably too many players in a number of the categories, and then there was a tremendous downdraft by the economy. But I think it's an exciting time now, because inexorably the web is becoming more and more video-centric very single day. I think that's a great opportunity for vendors of many types that are here at the conference, but the whole utility around getting video online and on mobile, is just exploding – it's a great time."
Earlier this year Andy was recognized as one of The 2010 Streaming Media All-Stars - StreamingMedia.com for his pioneering and tireless work at covering the emerging online video industry. He noted that the biggest trend in online video is "The consumption of video away from destinations and the rise of new syndication schemes", and the biggest challenge facing the industry is, "Video needs to be properly indexed and searched for web use and for devices. We are not there yet."

In terms of what's next for Beet.TV, Andy says that it's growing, selling more sponsorships and hoping to announce a major syndication partner sometime this year. This summer, Andy spun off Beet.TV as a subsidiary of Plesser Holland. The new unit is creating custom video blogs for clients including MIT and Fordham University.

In addition to the many video interviews Andy conducted at this year's Streaming Media East conference, he also fit in time to moderate a panel session on, Video Search: Finding Content in a Thousand-Channel Universe, which explored how some of today's search services work and what's being developed to make them even better.

Moderator: Andy Plesser, Executive Producer, Beet.tv
Jim Lanzone, CEO, Clicker.com
Tom Wilde, CEO, RAMP
Jack Rotherham, SVP, Strategic Development and Partnerships, Metacafe
Dina Kaplan, Co-Founder, blip.tv

With the arrival of "video everywhere" and increasing online video viewership, what role does search need to play to make it easier for consumers to find what they want to watch? Indexing and chapterizing video to make it easily searchable can make the content much more valuable and effective, but that alone won't increase consumption. With the recent upgrades of searchable video services by major social networks and the deals made with big media properties to index streaming and downloadable entertainment, video searching is quickly becoming crucial to today's content economy.

As a video blogger, Andy says that the medium is an important new platform for corporations, institutions and any business small, medium or large.
“Just as blogging can make any entity a publisher, the ease of video production means that organizations can be television programmers with an effective distribution network on the Internet.”

About Andy Plesser
Andy Plesser
Andy Plesser is founder and CEO of Beet.tv, a video blog that covers the world of online video by reporting on consumer generated content, the industry players, and tools and services. The vlog explores the societal and business implications of this phenomenon. Beet.TV evolved from Plesser Holland, a public relations firm that represents WIRED, PC Magazine, Gourmet, CNET Networks, Salon.com, Technology Review, Red Herring, and PRWeek. Andy recently spun off Beet.TV as a subsidiary of Plesser Holland. The new unit is creating custom video blogs MIT and Fordham University. Prior to this, Andy was a senior vice president at Howard J. Rubenstein. He was also a jazz impresario for producer Joseph Papp, an associate producer at CBS, and a press officer in the presidential campaign of Walter Mondale.

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