What I learned from Michael Eisner about the online video industry

Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney, formed Vuguru in 2007, a studio designed to develop video exclusively for online and mobile applications.  On October 7th, he spoke at the VEOH Insights: Watching The Web presentation about the future of the online video industry.  He came off as funny and insightful, and he's betting big on the future of online video, so it's worth paying attention:

On Hulu and video portals: 
Hulu is a "middle game" - it's not content produced for the web, leveraging the web, though what it does it's done very well.

MySpace has the audience and the streams to dominate in online video, but they don't have a clue how to make it all work.

On online video advertising:
The industry needs to lead the advertisers - it can't let them define their own ad executions that don't fit into the content.  Show them why it will work your way, everybody has to be convinced.

Audiences are conditioned for commercial pods.  They will accept a :15 sec interruption.  Interruptions need to scale to the show length.

Post-roll is dead, it's like watching the credits.  A targeted contextual offer at the end that ties well to the content could be a fruitful alternative.

Behavioral targeting is like when a guy marries the same woman over and over.  It's the Amazon model of assuming a person wants the same thing he just purchased.  But most people aren't that predictably consistent.

On quality of content:
South Park and other low resolution shows are essentially radio, they leverage the elements of good radio to be successful.

On the web video industry:
Video right now is lead by the distributors - the people looking for eyeballs, worrying about screens.  Cable came into it's own when it started producing it's own content.

Online video needs professionals, not automation, to really take off.

TV may be the big guy at the party for the next few decades, but the idea of 'on demand' is the future.

Shows that are cultural phenomenons (Seinfeld for example) took commitments by the networks.  They failed early, but the networks believed and gave them time to win the audience over.  An online property needs to have that presence of mind - it's got the capability, it has the audience and the ability to syndicate instantly.

In any business, you can be too early or too late - we're not sure yet for the online video landscape where we stand.

On Back On Topps and Vuguru:
Back on Topps is a new show by Vuguru.  It's exclusive for a 12-hour window on Fox Sports.  Windows are a TV model that defines length of exclusivity before pushing into syndication.

Back on Topps has in-show ads for Skype that have been made funny; Reeses Pieces was made by Speilberg doing the same thing (inclusion in E.T.).

Back on Topps will ultimately be a half-hour show rather than just 5 minute episodes.  Vuguru is committed to testing the limits and longevity of the show.

Prom Queen was translated and pushed out to international audiences, and saw success.

For an example of his recent work, check out Back On Topps
Cross posted on my Advertising Blog