Publishing, Video, Paid Content… and finally the ability to Publish Paid Video Content Online

by Huntley in Author Tips, General, Selling Video Online / 02.08.10

The publishing industry is a massive one and one that’s deservedly been in the news with alarming frequency lately. In the last decade, traditional book publishers iceberghave seen the web (and e-commerce) spike up to become their largest sales channel. However, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg for changes coming down the pipe for publishing.

Ignoring magazine and newspaper publishing, which have been covered ad nauseam in their quest to find sustainable business models as they carry forward, even traditional book publishing is being forced into a position where traditional publishers will have to find ways to adapt.

To give you an idea of the changes they’re facing, let’s start with a look at how individuals spend their time. In 2007, consumers spent 5.5 hours per week reading books and 15.1 hours per week online. In 2009, those numbers shifted; consumers spent only 3.5 hours per week reading and were spending 15.9 hours per week online.

So who have been the big winners in this brave new world (other than the obscenely-broad classification of ‘time spent online.’)?  One of the biggest has been online video.  Where 75% (138MM people) of the US internet audience was watching online video in November of 2007 at an average clip of 3.25 hours per month, those numbers have exploded in the past two years. 85% (170+MM people) of the US internet audience was watching online video in November of 2009, and those individuals watched, on average, 12.2 hours of online video in November.  That’s a lot of YouTube clips…

But, it’s not all YouTube anymore.  News outlets have managed to incorporate video into their online offerings, Hulu has carved a nice niche for itself and developed a rabid fan following, and where video on a website used to be an anomaly, it’s gotten to the point where it’s unusual (and a bad omen) to *not* have some sort of video on your site.  As YouTube becomes more of a piece of a pie (where it was previously virtually the whole pie), we’re starting to see video clip durations climb.  The average video watched online is still only 4 minutes, but that’s climbed up almost 50% over the last two years.  Hulu is driving some of this, but the emergence of video as a viable content source and consumer interest in seeking out longer-form video content on-demand online has also played a part.

Video online is continuing to come of age at an interesting time.  Recent economic turbulence has been painful all around, and we’re seeing fallout from this online.  Purely ad-supported models are starting to skid, and while mountains of pre-recession VC money will take time to burn through, it will, indeed, happen for countless sites that are out there trying to live off of ad dollars and a me-too business model.  Newspapers are the most notable victims of an online bias towards ad-supported models, but now we’re seeing the newspapers *and* many of the bastions of free/ad-supported content looking towards and experimenting in the paid content space.  It’ll be interesting to see how they blend their free/ad-supported roots with their new forays into commerce and pay models.

In the past month, news stories have covered the New York Times’ plans to move to a paywall model in 2011Hulu’s rumored plans to introduce a subscription-based paid serviceYouTube’s experiment with offering paid access to feature-length independent films in conjunction with SundanceRupert Murdoch’s insistence that News Corp (and a whole slew of other news outlets) will be forced to charge for news access sooner than we’d all like to believe, etc.

It’s been an interesting time to be at MindBites.  When we launched, the questions we inevitably faced from media contacts, investors and friends all centered around what they saw as absolute frivolity in attempting to charge people for access to anything online, especially video content. However, we managed to power through and were delighted to find that people were thrilled to pay for access to on-demand video content so long as it offered them the answers or assistance they needed.  Similarly, there were loads of people out there that were keen to sell access to their video content and just needed a marketplace to sell it in or help building a private label, custom video store to bolt onto their existing site. The times are definitely changing, and it’ll be interesting to watch everything get sorted out online.

As always, if you’re interested in working with us or learning more about the MindBites platform and marketplace for selling access to your video content in a streaming video on-demand format online, MindBites enterprise solutions offerings that offer traffic monetization, develop and implement paid video content strategies, and help you take full advantage of the MindBites platform.  Contact us or sign up to get started!  Or, even better, if you have questions about what we’ve learned in this space or how we approach it, feel free to drop me a note in the comments below!

**Special thanks to Comscore and the American Association of Publishers for the stats referenced in this blog post.

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