I’ve been at home sick for a couple of days, which has involved a mix of work and killing time. I was in the latter mode when I was reading my friend Jeff‘s blog where he announced he’d be broadcasting on BlogTV.. so naturally I decided to click the link to see what was goin’ on in Melville. The link was to blogtv.com which, if you live in Canada, redirects you to blogtv.ca. I had initially assumed this was some sort of load balancing technique, and is perfectly logical, since I’m in Canada. But no…
Then I remembered their commercials airing with monotonous frequency on Canadian TV … it occurred to me that someone is spending millions of dollars on an ad campaign driving people to a “Canadian Only” video sharing community. What? Why? What kind of startup would cripple themselves geographically right out of the starting gate? Then some GoOgling gave me the answer, and Matthew Ingram’s well-written article from last week…
The answer is, BlogTV really isn’t a startup: it’s a new media misadventure embarked upon by Canada’s premiere television and film producer and distributor, Alliance Atlantis. The technology driving BlogTV was licensed from Israeli company Tapuz, and apparently that license is exclusive to the Canadian market. Tapuz appear to have licensed their platform in joint-ventures on a country-by-country basis, which is a lose-lose proposition for all involved. The whole notion is a highly-effective force-divider for the virality that has made YouTube, Flickr, and other media sharing sites so phenomenally successful.
The Alliance Atlantis executives behind BlogTV.ca are trying to apply lipstick to the pig, bandying around terms like “niche marketing” and playing up the Canada-Only angle as a plus, rather than the enormous minus that it truly is. As they do so, rather than helping Alliance Atlantis shuffle from the big media world into the highly-segmentable internet driven new media world, they’re further highlighting Big Media’s complete ignorance of its benefits and total inability to understand is effects.
Surfing to the blogtv.ca web site and clicking on “Watch Live” reveals that, apparently, Canadians have very little to say to other Canadians. My trip to their site revealed five broadcasters, three of whom were apparently unattended; one of whom, “BarbieGurl” apparently has little to do but sit in front of her PC chatting with men making lewd remarks; and another of whom is furiously masturbating and looking for hot girls in Toronto (sorry, I’m not linking to that one). Your results may vary but in any circumstance, it’s fairly obvious that this “online community” has nowhere to go but down, and Alliance’s marketers will be challenged to find tie-ins between these broadcasters and their CSI:NY and SliceTV franchises.
There are a lot of media sharing sites out there, and the market segment is way overfunded. The best idea for Big Media moguls wringing their hands over the exodus of audiences from crappy reality TV on their sofas to crappy reality TV online is to buy one of these at a fire-sale price, open the platform globally, and build communities centered on their content, allowing viewers to participate as they do on YouTube.
Then, the conclusion: As licensed, distributed and marketed locally, BlogTV will be a global failure. Sorry I couldn’t watch your broadcast through the firewall, Jeff.