Putting a video online is easier than it has ever been, but good luck getting people to watch it.
Video creators everywhere are facing the same dilemma: While the Web has made video production almost effortless, discovery still remains one of the biggest problems. This is an issue particularly for small or independent creators, who lack the natural distribution advantages of large established media players.
Looking to turn that around is NYC.TV, a New York-centric video platform that aims to help independent creators fund, promote and distribute their output. The goal, according to NYC.TV co-founder Kareem Ahmed, is to recreate the public access television model on the Web, giving local video makers a new platform and giving viewers a new destination for high-quality video.
“If someone wants to watch content created just by people in their city or community, there’s no place for them to go,” said Ahmed, who was The New York Times director of audience development and growth strategy editor until departing in April. “We are providing content for videos that are created in NYC in a way that no one has before.” The company, which is still at just three people, is working on a funding round, and has also launched a Kickstarter campaign.
NYC.TV’s content, which will be a mix of original programming and existing content that it repackages, comes in many forms. “The Punchline,” one if its originals, will give up-and-coming New York City comedians two minutes to tell jokes, while “WTF Are you Wearing” will ask curiously dressed New Yorkers to explain their outfits.
Local media companies are a hard sell these days. The high-profile implosions of local initiatives such as Patch and TBD.com have turned off would-be local media entrepreneurs and investors. But Ahmed said that while NYC.TV is focused on local creators, its output has international appeal, giving NYC.TV an inherently global scope. More, New York City is only the first phase of the NYC.TV platform, which will before long expand internationally to Toronto, London, Paris and even Tokyo.
That city focus is also aimed at fixing what Amhed says is Web video’s “context and discovery problem,” which is largely a function of just how much video is out there. YouTube alone gets 300 hours of new video content each minute, traditional television companies are bringing their content online, and just about every publisher, both digital-first and traditional, is pushing into original video. The result is an embarrassment of riches for video watchers, and a major distribution challenge for creators, who often struggle to find audiences for their work. (Even a major brand like Condé Nast can struggle to find viewers.)
“Just publishing a video is not enough to drive audience to it. There needs to be another layer of effort that becomes a part of the process,” said Ahmed. “Even at a company like The Times, audience development is a massive undertaking.”
NYC.TV aims to break through the noise by focusing on quality and curation, not flooding the Web with more content. The site plans to post just one video a day at first, which will help it focus its promotion efforts. It will eventually supplement that output with sponsored content, which is how it plans to make money.
Creators say the approach makes sense for both sides.
“A lot of creators put stuff online that just gets lost,” said Anthony DiMieri, creator of webseries “Bros,” a former viral hit will reappear on NYC.TV. “This is a good way to get noticed. They’re saying, ‘This is curated content that has a high standard of quality.’”