How videocasting is seriously funny business

Don’t you just hate it when you blog and for some reason your post disappears into oblivion? Here’s my rewrite…

Working on my next major research paper on “Blogs & how they make you buy stuff” (ok, that’s so not going to be the title), I chance upon the ever-shifting podcast charts on the iTunes music store. An amazing variety of videocasts are now available, all very interesting and very high in production quality.

While the cost of video production has gone down considerably, what intrigues me is how some of the more frequent, high quality shows are able to sustain themselves. Most of the high quality videocasts are obviously sponsored by corporations or lifted from existing TV shows (e.g. DigitalLife TV, Bollywood Report from WahIndia, The Living Kitchen Cooking Show, etc), but what about the independently produced ones?

Let’s simply assume that it takes money to account for the time and effort in producing these videocasts. Where do these independent videocasters get the finances to keep going? Are there alternative sources of income or some kind of return of investment to these shows? Is “labor of love” enough to explain how it works? Strange as it seems, I did some preliminary investigations…

TikiBarTVTiki Bar TV
Currently no. 1 on the iTunes podcast chart is new weekly video cast that features barflies, lounge lizards and swingers, called Tiki Bar TV. This explicitly educational show is so hypnotically entertaining, it reminds me of Monty Python combined with the Playboy Channel plus the Food Network. As the title suggests, its about entertainment and making cocktails. Characters include Lala, the cocktail babe; Johnny Johnny, mixer of ‘forbidden drinks’; and Doctor Tiki, who is a PhD and MD in Tiki (or “cocktologist” from his blog profile). According PodcastingNews, Tiki Bar TV’s Reginald Hornstein said that “when we came across video podcasting, we found much of it strange, some funny, some inspiring and a good deal total crap. We certainly fit one of these categories.” From the sound of it, it looks like they are doing this because they’ve always wanted to do it. Motivation: Labor of Love (perhaps also a convenient reason for more drinks?)

RocketBoom AmandaRocketBoom
RocketBoom is a three minute daily videoblog based in New York City, covering a wide range of information and commentary from top news stories to quirky internet culture. Releasing each new clip at 9am EST, Monday through Friday, each show has heavy emphasis on international arts, technology and weblog drama. CBS news made a report on RocketBoom (Aug. 19, 2005) when it first made the airwaves netwave. From there, I learnt that it was vlogger Andrew Baron who created RocketBoom as well as how Amanda Congdon was actually picked from hundreds of aspiring actresses who applied to put on the daily blog. To answer my question, Andrew claimed that production costs for Rocketboom is kept low, since they use just the basics, namely a camera, computer, table, chair and a map that hangs behind the set. He even goes on to reveal that it costs somewhere around $25 a day to produce the videocast! Motivation: Labor of Love (-$25 daily w/ possible +ve income if they added ads)

90 second challenge90 Second Challenge
90 Second Challenge is more straightforward to me since it invites submissions from across Bristol, UK to make digital media. It could be a film, mobile phone game, Flash or 3-D animation, Internet viral, stop-motion, a photography slideshow, audio track or VJ set. Everyone is welcome to have a go. It features workshops, work-in-progress screenings, online resources and master-classes. Apparently there will even be a “dating agency” to help you find partners to work with if so required! The project is happening as part of Electric Pavilion, a Creative Bristol 2005 initiative, which is sponsored by the Bristol Cultural Development Partnership. Motivation: Sponsorship + Collective effort (based on user submissions = produser)

There’re obviously too many videocasts to feature at this point, so I’m merely reviewing those that took my fancy. I’d be grateful if anyone could tell me how independent videocasters survive if not for sponsorship. The key seems to be keeping it to an efficent workflow which reduces production costs. Tips and suggestions on videocasting on the cheap are highly welcomed. In the mean time, here are BBC’s Good Shooting Guide and Apple’s Seven Steps to Videocasting for all videocaster wannabes.

28 thoughts on “How videocasting is seriously funny business

  1. I tend to agree with you that it’s primarily motivated by a labour of love. But perhaps there’s also an underlying wish of getting sponsored or bought over by someone (not that there’s anything wrong in that).

  2. It’ll be interesting to see if those *no-names* [ that means no audiences other than those vbloggers themselves] still survive in the long run. I highly suspect whether they will move on if nobody appreciates. Besides money, I am also wondering in those vbloggers’ eyes, how many audiences are worth keeping them cameras running.

  3. True… if the number of videocasts drop over time, then we know it’s just a fad. Even blogging need motivation, e.g. comments.

  4. I saw that from your other link, but while this company claims responsiblity, they simply list the videos but don’t show actual product placement… there’s nothing in the videos that seems commercial… were there any produt placements? Is so where? It all sounds kinda fishy to me. 🙂

  5. Viral Video aka Solvtech aka two of Michigan’s finest produced Tiki Bar and Rocket Boom for the express purpose of product placement according to THEIR website. Now were the 8 or 9 bottles of Orange Stoli that gratuitously appeared on the bar in the ‘Red Oktober’ episode evidence that were actually paid to place them there? Who knows? Sovltech knows but they aren’t talking! In fact they’ll remove any entry on their Tiki Bar blog that alludes to the Viral Video Solutions connection

    When people start doing stuff like this you cannot take anything for granted or at face value. Who knows, your website could be a product of Viral Video, published to generate the illusion that Tkik Bar has been ‘researched’ and found innocent 🙂 It generates paranoia It is one reason why, in areas governed by the FCC, advertisers are required to announce “Paid Commercial Announcement” aka infomercials.

  6. Hmm, it’s “very indirect” marketing then! With such a covert operation, it’s really an effectiveness test of subtlety. Thanks for sharing… you sure this isn’t some conspiracy theory? Very “spiral of silence” if you ask me… :/

  7. Um that’s what product placement IS. You ought to research it a
    bit you’d be suprised. Similar to the ‘subliminal advertising attempted in the 50’s. That depended on the target being clueless also. I really think you are being disingenuous, the question is why?

  8. Why? Simply because I haven’t seen any real product placement!

    If it only started to appear in the most recent episode (Tiki Bar TV: episode 9), then sure there’s probability of what you said as true. At the time of my writing this article, I didn’t see any (was up to episode 8 ). If I saw product placement, I would have known it (as with most adequately intelligent folks). I read that marketing company’s web site as you did, but I did one thing different from you. I questioned it’s authenticity… which prompted this healthy discussion as to how real that company is and where we actually see signs of advertising.

    Once again, I agree that what you said isn’t impossible, especially given the nature of the Internet where it’s easier to distort messages. To make this productive, why don’t we look more possible product placement in Tiki Bar TV and RocketBoom?

    Post your finds in this comment thread. If enough instances do appear, we turn groundless suspicions into something closer to the truth.

  9. As an experiment, I’ve posted our thoughts on the Tiki Bar TV blogspot comments (episode 9). If this comment disappears on their blog, then maybe we have something right in our hands.

  10. The post on their blog is good. And to clear up what I am saying, I am only saying that THEIR blog, and THEIR press releases say that VIRAL VIDEO PRODUCES TikiBar TV. That’s it. They make the podcast. They state that the reason they do it, is to provide a vehicle for product placement. They, nor I never say they have been successful in getting advertisers to buy a product placement. They just say that that is the reason for doing TikiBarTV. See? So whether or not you actually see anything that is a product placement is tangential or even irrelevant to my point. My point is Tkik Bar TV is not made ‘for fun’, it is made ‘for profit’ and that profit depends on being disingenuous and pretending to be something they are not. The proof of their intent to deliver product placements is not in their success in actually getting someone to pay for a placement. I am just saying that is what Viral Video is saying as to the reaosn they are making the podcast. I don’t know how to make it any clearer….

  11. Thanks, that’s clear enough. I didn’t see the press release (everyone look here!).

    Press Releases (2005 Oct 20)
    “Tiki Bar TV is #1 Podcast on iTunes. Shown in the release of Video iPod, Tiki Bar TV has quickly rocketed up the charts of the most popular online shows. With Tiki Bar TV, Viral Video Solutions seeks to provide advertisers a way to get young viewers engaged with their products. Since massive audiences are important in any advertising, we have developed a system of distributing these videos to wherever and whenever they want to view them.”

    You were citing this, while I was talking about whether such advertising existed on the videocasts and whether there’s actual money to be made.

    The reason why I didn’t believe what you said was because I didn’t see any explicit advertising… no more on Racheal Ray talking about how Ben & Jerry’s ice cream on Food Network than Tiki Bar TV talking about specific alcohols in their cocktails.

  12. Look, we’re not sponsored by anyone. I know, because I’m the guy in the Fez. If we’re sponsored then why do I have a receipt in my wallet for a shitload of booze which were the ingredients for our next episode? Shouldn’t that shit be free?

    Honestly, we make the show in the Doctor’s apartment. I have a day job. We ALL do. There’s no sponsor. The guy at Viral Video emailed us and was like “yeah, I can get you tons of sponsors!”. Then he started making all these whacked out press released. If we’re sponsored then why do I have a bus pass then? Where’s my fucking Lexus?

    The Viral guy is just some dude with a webpage. If you read his page, he’s laying credit for RocketBoom, Systm, and a load of other podcasts – which we all know he does’nt pay for. Nobody pays for RocketBoom but Amanda and Drew!

    So STFU with this conspiricy theory shit allready! Christ, I need a drink.

  13. Thanks Johnny Johnny… I should have asked you guys first… I keep forgetting how a simple email would have sorted it out. Respects for the quick response!

    Expose’/Riight: This was exactly what I thought. I sense something amissed and didn’t take what was said on the press release whole-heartedly. This is just like the 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast where everyone panicked, EXCEPT those who questioned the source. I’m glad I deliberated on what was said right from the start. We’ve got to always verify what’s said on the Internet… not everything is real.

  14. Well, thanks for the kind words in the review Kevin – calling us “hypnotically entertaining” and comparing us to Monty Python is terribly generous!

    We’ve been deleting the “viral video” posts from our blog for a while because they’ve been an annoyance, but now we figured it was time to tell everyone that there is indeed no sinister plan.

    Here, check this out – this is the receipt for the booze for our next episode. I wish I still had the receipt for the bottle of Orange Stoli that we used in the last episode, but i chucked it – there’s no need to keep receipts I can’t get reimbursed for, is there?

    http://i32.photobucket.com/albums/d6/rocketchicken/web_receipt.jpg

  15. yeah you can’t believe everything you read on the internet 🙂

    Whatever, if it were me, I’d be going after the Viral Video Solutions assholes, if it weren’t true, and you, Johnny-Johnny aren’t. And no, they don’t claim credit for systm, just tiki and rocketboom and some other horrible cheesy stupid lame videos like “how to do it girls” or something augghh.

    Whatever, I don’t believe any of you 🙂

  16. I mean here is a straight cut and paste from one of Viral’s websites; “Video Gourmet”

    #1 iTunes podcast now accepting sponsors for the next episode. Click here

    Tiki Bar TV Forbidden cocktails & swinging babes in a swank bachelor pad. Stare mesmerized by the beautiful Lala while Dr. Tiki, with the help of bartender Johnny Johnny, solves any manner of human problems through a prescription of magical elixirs.
    http://www.tikibartv.com/

    What the hell do you expect people to think???

    rumors my ass

  17. riight: It’d help if you had a blog of your own, a real email address, or even some proof (like how Johnny posted a scan of his liquor receipt) that you are who you are. It’s ironic that Johnny and I have laid our namesake on the line while you remain anonymous. How’s anyone suppose to believe you? Come out of the dark and don’t be afraid to mean what you say. I agree that the problem lies with Viral Video Solutions and I think the commendable thing you did was to help bring more exposure about them. 🙂

  18. I don’t care if you believe me or not. And if you think posting a photo of a liquor receipt is proof of anything more than someone bought a bottle of bacardi and a bottle of stoli, you sir, should listen to my sales pitch for the Brooklyn Bridge.

    Don’t shoot the messenger, y’know?

  19. And what exactly is there to believe or disbelieve about me??

    All I ever said was there was a press release about a company that said they made TikiBarTV. I didn’t make the website you know 🙂

  20. We never authorised that guy to put us on his site. He’s doing it of his own accord. If you put on your legal glasses and read it VERY closely, again:

    #1 iTunes podcast now accepting sponsors for the next episode.

    It doesn’t actually say that HE is accepting sponsors for HIS show – because it isn’t his show! He’s acting as an independent agent of his own accord trying to put deals together that he hopes we’ll like. I know a thing or two about putting deals together myself, and let me tell you, trying to arrange sponsors for a show you don’t own is just a dumb-ass way to try to run a business.

    I’m not going to say anything other than this:

    Tiki Bar TV has NO RELATIONSHIP WITH VIRAL VIDEO SOLUTIONS. He has NO AGREEMENT IN PLACE that gives him legal authority to solicit business or negiotiate deals on our behalf!

    THE ONLY connection Viral Video has with Tiki Bar is that he went and snagged the domain before we could register it. We have no money. We spend it all on booze. By the time we did the second or third epsiode we thought “shit, we should snag the domain..” and that’s when we realized that the Viral guy had actually snagged it like two days before us. Yes, we should have bought it BEFORE starting the show, but we were drunk. And broke. So he got it first. Mark did, in his defence, agree to redirect traffic to our site, which was great.

    Weve been trying to get control of the domain from Mark over the past few weeks, and it looked like he was going to comply, but Mark has stopped returning my emails.

    So there you go.

  21. I appreciate your taking the effort to comment here. I don’t know what domain he snagged but I do see where Frazier & company are claiming to represent systm and the broken, which I know isn’t true. So yeah, I see where they are just lying their asses off. Truth is I don’t think they have the brains to do your show. It’s odd tho, if I were you I sure would be writing letters to Viral insisting that they stop telling people they are responsible for TikiBarTV. It’s certainly not doing you any good . Whatever, great show. best of luck.

  22. Blah, blah, blah, TikiBarTV rules. I’ve been a fan since ep 2, and am glad they’re producing again. Hell, I even mentioned the show in a bar last friday and got a girls number! Thank you TikiBarTV

    The above story is true and is not a form of Viral Marketing/McArthism of the Digital Age.

  23. Expose’ / Riiight / Rich Sigfrit (or whatever pseudo name):

    For someone who said:
    “Tiki Bar TV is a professionally produced AD, made by Viral Video to appear as just a bunch of fun loving drunks making a podcast, and apparently they’ve fooled everyone… except me” (on October 27th, 1:38 pm)

    …to now sucking up to Johnny of TikiBarTV after realizing you made a blunder, you’re really pathetic. Further attempts to change your tune only pours more salt on your wounds.

    You made the biggest mistake of not verifying your sources, and to top it off, aggressively denouncing others for not believing you were right. Anyone can read the comments and see how much of a fraud you are.

    For all I know, your initial enthusiasm for Viral Video Marketing could well mean you’re working for them. Johnny has cleared TikiBarTV’s reputation on his blog as well as on mine. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, but your trolling behavior isn’t welcomed anymore. I’m closing this comment tread.

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