Consider this post fueled by whatever you will - I find it very important and worthwhile. I'm going to set aside all of the technical problems everyone has already mentioned with the video distribution and the ABC platform - the fact that there are no RSS feeds, the video scrolls have been turned off, one is forced to view long, irrelevant pre-roll ads that outlast many people's curiosity and especially the closed platform with no mobile or local potential.
In other-words, the only difference between this video platform and one from say, 1997, is that for this one, the video does play.
I'm going to suggest that the greatest problem with this project however has to do with the severely expensive resources that are being used for a product that can be much more valuable for a mere fraction of the effort and costs.
My question is, how much money did it take to do this?
Also, if all of the effort only goes into a once-a-week show, how effective and interested are the people behind the show to take so much time and money to do so little?
For instance, we know they are probably paying Amanda Congdon a professional salary. They are also paying two senior level producers for this. Then there is at least one editor, a camera person (unless one of the producers is a camera person), lighting tech, audio guy, all with premium 'ABC' salaries. I am just speculating, perhaps I have missed some.
In addition to that, the entity ABC needs to make revenue (beside the people), yet they also have at least one rep that works with Congdon besides the producers and other production staff. Surely they have someone who works on the website if not a section of a team. Amanda's agent needs a professional share. Amanda's manager needs some. They obviously have a very aggressive PR team too (which they will definitely need to drive people to the show). Lets not forget the advertisers! They are the ones supporting this and because so many people need to get paid such high salaries, the advertisers need to get paid most of the real-estate of the website. In turn, ABC must pay to advertise to drive people to these advertisements. In many ways, this scenario is typical of one where the advertisers are way more important than the show itself. The show is just a tool for ad sales, after all.
The point I want to make is this: There are probably WAY too many people needed to pull off this one 5 minute production exclusively for a small low-bitrate flash file on one website.
This kind of spending can have it's place. A company like ABC could perhaps use their expensive resources to produce content that needs expensive resources. Was there special access gained? Was there need for expensive equipment? Travel expenses? 3 producers?
No, there was no sign of any need for any of the above that I could see.
While people often assume I am anti-established media, I have always believed and said the best way to get through these times is to work together closely and thats what I have always done.
Meeting Joanne and bringing her experienced talents and resources into Rocketboom has been the best thing that ever happened to Rocketboom since it began.
In ABC's case though, they are not working with any new conventions or gaining any "new media property" or collaboration and simultaneously, they are putting themselves at odds with everyone participating (see first paragraph above) especially by spending even more money on leeching:
This could also warrant more spending via a legal buffer in the budget due to the false advertising claims about the show being "daily" <-I tease of course. . . but paying to intercept people searching for Rocketboom?. . . perhaps the greatest expense of all could be the loss of brand value and respect from playing the fake taxi driver who preys on visitors that don't speak the language.
I also include lots of comments from around the various blogs - it is amazing how the majority of posts center around one thing.
And I agree with Drew - this belongs on an entertainment channel, not a major news network. How she got a major link from abc news home page is absolutely beyond me and abc news should be ashamed of itself for promoting this as news.
Some sites have called her the new Suzanne Sommers from 3s co.
Posted: December 16, 2006 6:14 AM
+ Barbara Boxer
I should know because I am Senator from California. Diane says hello.
I have the utmost respect for Rocketboom and what the Rocketboom team (including Amanda when she was aboard) have done for vlogging, but all this really seems like sour grapes.
Yes ABC has considerably more resources at their disposal and maybe the product they have is not very good, but who cares? If it's a lame show people won't watch and if they do watch it won't be for very long. And if it's a great show ABC and Amanda should be congratulated for taking that something started with the grassroots to a major media outlet.
Either way, I think the classy and smart thing to do here is to wish Amanda and ABC the best of luck and refrain from trying to tear her down publicly. Otherwise Rocketboom look petty, childish and unprofessional.
I think Andrew had it right. It's fine to critique the show techncially (though, IMHO, it's only the first episode so cut them a wee bit of slack). But better to have done so with a smile and a positive well wish. Definitely sour grapes.
Posted: December 16, 2006 4:58 PM
"Either way, I think the classy and smart thing to do here is to wish Amanda and ABC the best of luck and refrain from trying to tear her down publicly."
I definitely wouldn't classify this post as "trying to tear her down". If there's anyone who's knowledgable about these the costs and issues associated with producing online videos - it's Andrew.
This feels a lot like an experience we shared in September, where someone showed us this huge build-out where they hoped to house videobloggers, and we all kind of cracked on it, saying how big it all was, and overblown. (Not that we all wouldn't love more gear).
One of the biggest game-changers in this space, in my mind, is the disaggregation of all the human and cost overhead. If you can do a show with 2 people, do it.
Brian Conley does his shows on a string.
The Google thing made my stomach a little twitchy, because if you take away THIS particular fight, why can't people just go out and buy anti-brands? Can I pay enough that when someone looks for Chris Brogan they find the person I'd LEAST want them to find?
I loved your crack about the only difference being that the video WORKED. : )
I agree with you, but I wondering why you are offering this free consulting service to ABC?
We all like Amanda, but the lure of the Big Time is overwhelmingly intoxicating and all consuming.
You can do anything you want to do today, but our dear Amanda has contracts, obligations and tremendous expectations as she awakes each morning.
Posted: December 17, 2006 10:39 AM
This sounds like a bit like Gary Covino and Ira Glass, who were a team before This American Life. Quality of work, fame, and jealousy are not neatly correlated across time, through partnerships, and even within the same individual. Over the long haul, though, I'd have to say it's better to just do your own good work and let the rest take care of itself.