Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Online Video Conversations: Steven Horn, Metacafe - Part 2: Metacafe and the Power of Premium Content

In part two of my interview with Steven Horn, vice president of programming for Metacafe, he further expands on our previous conversation about how Metacafe has decided to focus on premium short-from content, and how Metacafe's recent acquisition of action sports site helps bolster its unique editorial voice within the online video entertainment genre. According to Horn, Metacafe has taken a different approach than other online video entertainment sites by the way it build packages around its premium content. In particular, as Horn previously noted Metacafe's editors provide "deep content experiences" by programming related premium content around new movie releases. For example, with Ben Affleck's recent bank robbery film, The Town, the editors programmed other classic band robbery films like Heat and Dog Day Afternoon to give context the bank robbery genre and made Ben Affleck the featured celebrity of the week.
"These are the things you can do with editors, versus, just a random collection of videos that people are expected to search and sift through themselves. We cherry pick the best and put them together in these compelling unique content packages."

Within the premium content space, Horn says, the Hollywood movie studios are the ones that have been playing the most online. They were the first on the Internet and have spent a lot of time and effort into their digital strategies. He reiterated that Metecafe's editors have those relationships with the studios and understand the content gives Metacafe the edge over other entertainment sites.

Horn also says that comedy has also been very successful for Metacafe, and that its approach is to put comedy into everyday situations. For instance, when Metacafe go to a film junket film to interview a celebrity – they don't ask the same questions that everyone else asks (because likely they could get those type of interviews from their partners anyway), so they send in comedians to do songs, interviews and create fun and unique ways to create exclusive premium content. For its "Iron Man 2" interview with Scarlett Johansson, Metacafe's Matt Zaller took the opportunity to get some make up tips from the actress firsthand rather than doing a traditional question and answer interview. The video was a success and had a viral effect getting picked up by Huffington Post, Gawker, StumbledUpon and other sites.
"When we think about what's working for us, we're hanging a lot of our strategy on comedy, and not only comedy, but a non-traditional approach to staged events... and the studios are loving it."
Horn is very excited by Metacafe's recent acquisition of Action Sports, Inc. the parent company of, the popular site that features live webcasts of and video highlights from top action sports events around the world. Horn says that Go211 has carved out a really strong niche in live events and streaming, and Metacafe will be leveraging the expertise of Go211's digital video production team to introduce more original and exclusive content into its other premium entertainment hubs – MoviesVideo GamesTVMusic and the recent launch of Metacafe Sports, that features Go211’s extensive catalog of action sports videos in Snow, Skate, Surf and Bike. According to comScore Media Metrix, July 2010, Metacafe, with the inclusion of Go211, will now reach nearly 17.5M unique monthly U.S. viewers.
"Anytime you take two mature content organizations and put them together – the amount of creativity that comes out of that from a programming standpoint but also from a technical background scales very fast."   
Regarding the current state of the the online video space, Horn says he's excited to come to work everyday because it reminds him of the early days of the Internet.
"We all know that there's something big here, we all know it, we feel it, we sense it. Everyone is trying amazing new things online. I feel we're way too early to know who's going to end up winning – and actually I don't know if it's a win-lose if not a zero sum. I think there's a lot of different positions that people are taking. Metacafe is taking this premium short-from position, and there's a lot of other players out there. 
In terms of where we go and where we consume this video – I don't even think we know – in 5 years we may have implants in our eyes that show us video or we see it in our refrigerators – the actual, where this content is consumed is a lot less interesting to me than to what that content is. So whether it's on my phone or on my TV or whether it's on my 3-screen, 4-screen, whatever – what it is and who's serving it to me and what they're doing with that content, I think, is where the most excitement is with this industry now. It's a blank slate and we're having a lot of fun."
See part one of this interview: Online Video Conversations: Steven Horn, Metacafe - Part 1: Metacafe's Editorial Voice Drives Consumption of Online Video

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