Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

How to Make Web Video That Looks Like TV: Make Web Video About a TV Show

YouTube is spending more than $100 million to launch a series of “channels,” which are supposed to make the site more appealing to users and advertisers.

But you don’t need a YouTube deal, or YouTube’s money, to launch a channel with nice-looking content.

You can do it the old-fashioned way, and get an advertiser to foot the bill.

That’s what Outrigger Media, a Web video sales start-up, has done with Tumi, the high-end luggage company, and Road Bite TV.

Road Bite TV is a mashup, conceptually speaking, between TV’s Food Channel and Travel Channel. Outrigger doesn’t work with either cable channel, but it is leaning on one of their stars, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, to launch the thing.

Outrigger is piggybacking on Bourdain’s globe-hopping shows by getting producers Zero Point Zero, who put together Bourdain’s “No Reservations” and “The Layover,” to shoot a series of behind-the-scenes vignettes. Tumi underwrites the series in exchange for prominent placement in the clips (see below), as well as pre-roll ads and other promotional spots. (Zero Point Zero wants to make it clear that while Bourdain is on camera, he’s not part of the deal. Here’s more clarification from the producers: “There was no deal between Anthony Bourdain and Outrigger to launch Road Bite TV. Zero Point Zero Production was commissioned to create the content for Outrigger with a separate production crew.”)

Outrigger CEO Mike Henry says the first eight clips (he’s got another eight in the works) cost something in the “low-mid six figures” to produce. That gets him around half an hour of content, which makes it expensive by Web video standards, and dirt cheap by TV standards.

The finished product sort of straddles the line between the two. Interesting, but you’re not going to watch 30 minutes in a row.

What I’m really waiting for is the moment when “No Reservations” — or something like it — appears as a Web-only show. That is — something that’s as good as a good reality TV show, but which just happens to be running on the Web.

Free Web video sites still don’t generate enough money to support a TV-quality reality show (subscription services like Netflix are a different story), but those costs should keep coming down. And if YouTube is successful, ad dollars will go up, and we’ll get to that point sooner than later.


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I’m a giant vat of creative juices.

— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo