A pair of back-to-back events last Wednesday brought the first annual festival of "NewFronts" to a close. Google/YouTube, the bigger of the two with more than 2,000 people at the Beacon Theater, was closed to press, the other, one of YouTube's newest attractions (not part of the Original Channels venture showcased at Beacon), was open for observation.
Venue: This service--part content producer, part content aggregator--used Calle Ocho, the ground floor restaurant and bar inside The Excalibur Hotel on West 81st Street, across the street from the American Museum of Natural History. Excalibur has a 21 Club-like atmosphere, while Calle Ocho has an elegant, bright texture. The adobe-color main dining room was cleared out to seat the crowd, feasting on a variety of desserts before the speech-making. Grade: 4 Jacks
Presentation: Straight meat-and-potatoes, extremely fresh for show, given that MiTu launched on YouTube 48 hours earlier. Aimed at Latinos, the service comes over as a portal, mixing of original lifestyle shorts with material pulled from YouTube contributors with devoted Latino followings. The stress was on MiTu's ability to be easy to find, grouped into six categories--food, health, beauty, family, home and pop culture, "all family-friendly, brand-friendly and extremely relevant" in either English or Spanish, emphasized president Beatriz Acevedo. "We want to develop the next generation of stars and brand advocates," she said. Acevedo and her senior executives rotated speeches with video clips, keeping the pitch to under a half-hour in lively order. Grade: 4 Jacks
News: If you didn't see MiTu's press release 48 hours earlier, you had no idea of the original content on display, so you would conclude it was newsworthy. If you did, you got pretty much what you read, and not much more. Nevertheless, the made-for-site series highlighted, such as J.C.'s 3 Ways and Improv Cocina (cooking) and Casa Linda (home decorating) looked solid in either language. A new and sure sleeper treat: Spanish Word of The Day, a fun riff on video language lessons. Grade: 3 Jacks
Host: Acevedo did fine with her share of the presentation, with no lag on the part of her colleagues. Grade: 3.5 Jacks
Overall Grade: 4 Jacks Avoided all the pitfalls of some highly-spotlighted Newfronts, while bringing a new service to everyone's attention in an entertaining fashion.
5 Jacks - Excellent
4 Jacks - Very Good
3 Jacks - Good
2 Jacks - Fair
1 Jack - Poor
0 Jacks -Worse than bad
Some final Newfront observations:
While not allowing press into its Beacon Theater ceremonies last Wednesday night, Google/YouTube did hold a conference call for reporters that afternoon. That, in itself, was a breakthrough. Until now, YouTube and Google TV have limited their announcements to blog postings, passing up every opportunity to do themselves good via widespread press. Let's hope this new "go beyond the blog" mentality is permanent.
That call ended up being a newsmaker. First, YouTube, by nature of the deals with Wigs, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Tribeca Film Festival, is going beyond the 100 channels under an "Originals" banner. Second, with more than half of the 100 channels approved last October, YouTube will keep introducing channels on a regular basis month after month. Third, Google executive chairman (and former CEO) Eric Schmidt was a surprise participant, offering some provocative comments on TV's future. "We're about to see a huge explosion in the use of video...this is the third wave of TV, following broadcast and cable," he noted. "We don't see this venture as a replacement of TV. We see it as an augmentation. That's a very important point."
Nice CNBC special this past Monday night, Stay Tuned, on where convergence will take TV and the Internet. Media reporter Julia Boorstin covered the bases with choice comments from Barry Diller, Bob Iger, Jeff Bewkes and other luminaries. One quibble: when most CNBC primetime specials run an hour, and the subject is as important as any other the channel spotlights, why only 30 minutes for this one?
Next: Back to the Upfronts with A&E Networks
Until the next time, stay well and stay tuned!
Simon Applebaum is producer/host of Tomorrow Will Be Televised, the weekly Internet-distributed radio program covering the TV scene. Simon cal be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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