Personal Programming: The New Generation

October 28, 2008 | blog | By Mike Sullivan
Did you see the article about YouTube setting aside its 10-minute content limit? Up to now, YouTube has put a limit on the length of clips that could be shown which prohibited the posting of full-length TV shows and movies. By relaxing the 10-minute limit, Google and YouTube have opened the gateway to posting just about anything and they wasted no time in taking advantage of it. Already, YouTube has posted approved full-length material from CBS, HBO, Showtime, Sony Television and Lionsgate. Speculation is the only thing holding NBC, Fox and ABC back is the unresolved $1 billion lawsuit filed against YouTube by Viacom over copyright infringement.

Regardless of whether all the networks are on board, we are clearly on the doorstep of complete Personal Programming.

Imagine what happens when people can go to YouTube and watch any TV program they’d like from the past and present, even if it costs $1 or a special monthly fee to access the programming. And once you can choose your own lineup, how long before you can download everything to your iPod, laptop, or DVR. And what about movies? Last week, YouTube screened its first full-length film on its Screening Room channelfor independent filmmakers and already 150,000 people have downloaded the film. Imagine the paradigm shift in the film industry if all of a sudden anyone with a finished film has a channel for distribution. Talk about the power of the marketplace.

Admittedly, YouTube isn’t the only game in town. But they might as well be. While other websites like Hulu, Veoh and blip.TV try to play catchup, YouTube is the 8 million pound gorilla in video sharing. According to Nielsen Online, in September, YouTube showed 5.3 billion videos. Second place? Yahoo with 264,266. Personalized TV and movies. But it doesn’t stop there.

Have you visited Pandora.com yet? Back in 2000, three guys names Will Glaser, Jon Kraft and Tim Westergren founded something they called the Music Genome Project. Their goal was to capture the essence of music at the fundamental level by using 400 attributes to describe songs and a complex mathematical algorithm to organize them. Songs were then assigned genes that corresponded to various characteristics of a song like gender of the lead vocalist, level of distortion on the electric guitar and type of background vocals. The result is a website called Pandora.com where you can enter a song you like and based on that choice, Pandora will create a music stream that plays songs and artists who line up with a similar Genome to the song you picked. Bang! Personalized radio station.

Throw in iTunes and Amazon’s Kindle that lets you download books and articles to a handheld electronic reader and we’re that close to being able to download music, books, television and film on our own terms. What we want, when and how we want it.

The corporate directed, schedule-driven models are on the ropes and personal programming is looking for the knockout. I don’t know what that punch will look like but I have a feeling we won’t have to wait much longer to see it. And when it comes, once again, the voice of the underdog will be heard barking from the rooftops.


Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


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