Patricia Handshiegel

Digital Dish covers the ins and outs of an Internet executive moving into the television arena. Disher Patricia Handschiegel is the founder of Stylediary.net, which she sold to Stylehive.com in November 2007. She has a background in Internet infrastructure and technology business, was an advisor to Kaboodle.com (sold to Hearst in 2007), and has contributed as an entertainment/media business writer for Venturebeat.com. She’s also been an early visionary of professional Internet TV content since 2005 and is currently an advisor on several entertainment/Internet projects. Always an entrepreneur, she had a highly profitable babysitting monopoly at 11, lent her writing skill to students at 17 and landed her first published national article at 23.

She has also worked as a ghost writer for a national TV correspondent. At 22, she was recognized nationally for promoting the growth of women’s hockey and advised companies on creating hockey products for women. She’s been quoted and profiled in dozens of media outlets since and is currently developing two book concepts. A serial entrepreneur, she plans to continue to build Internet, entertainment and media companies, with the goal of promoting social change and charities. She is currently involved in the use of technology to help find missing and abused children, and has contributed financially to TheJoyfulChild.org and other organizations. She is the founder of Look|Shop|List.com (in development).


Digital Dish

September 2008 Archives

Starting on My Web Show

September 29, 2008 1:18 PM

I know I’ve been a lot of talk and no action regarding my Internet TV projects these past few months. I’ve probably said more than five times that I’ve got ideas in mind but little more than that.

I’ve been working with a small, cool production team to put a broadcast TV concept together these past five months. Outside of the basic priorities like distribution and advertising relationships, it hasn’t left much time to work on developing something for the Internet.

It’s finally time to start doing so now.

I’m exploring and solidifying production partners and details this week. From here, we’ll be working together to develop the project until it’s ready to go out to wherever it lands. I have four concepts in mind, one of which will be chosen depending on what we all decide.

I’m leaning toward the cute webisode for women, but we’ll see. It all boils down to what we find will work best.

What’s interesting is how the project will be put together. Fingers crossed, if all goes well it’ll be monetized and have a solid distribution channel before its first episode hits the Web. That’s different from a lot of Web business strategy you see online.

Rather than creating something, growing it and then monetizing, Web video sets its sights on having all that baked in beforehand.

It’s why I’ve been thinking through and experimenting with a few different formats. What we’ll use will be what has the best shot for this, both as a concept and as an online revenue and distribution model.

The biggest challenge, of course, is in putting it all together. It takes a special crew to be able to design and produce something specific for the Web, and gathering the other pieces involved is both time-consuming and complicated. But more momentum is gathering in the market and generating a larger number of talent and interest than ever.

Will I be able to create something that will attract audiences and advertisers, or potentially an acquisition offer? Only time will tell!

Broadcast TV Networks Inching Onto the Web

September 25, 2008 2:30 PM

I’ve been watching a lot of traditional TV lately, in part because I have been at home much more due to being injured. My viewing has included the premieres of “Lipstick Jungle” and “Heroes,” along with a bunch of other shows like “Today,” “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” etc.

'Lipstick Jungle'

'Lipstick Jungle'

What has been interesting is the effort some networks are making to drive traffic online. For example, NBC has used the Web to create engagement and attachment among “Heroes” fans through video, contests, etc.

It sounded like it worked for them, but I’d be interested in hearing more about specific traffic and metrics.

I can definitely say that the industry’s effort to bridge the gap between its traditional network (broadcast) and the Web has been surprisingly impressive. Anybody who regularly reads my blog will know I’m picky about this. Not to say that I always agree with the choice of initiative or execution, but many industries have met a similar challenge and fared far less well.

We’re far from having the problem of shrinking audiences and blurring lines totally licked, but it’s a good start. Here are a few new things on my mind lately about what could work next:

Twitter your programming teases. A big reason I skip a lot of television shows is that I rarely see or hear what’s coming on until after the fact. Most networks are using social media to promote shows and engage users, but why not also to list what’s on and when? Twitter would be perfect for this. In fact, add me—I’m Daily Patricia there.

Keep it simple-r. I noticed NBC ran something to encourage the audience to visit the network’s site online, but to be honest, I didn’t get it the first time I saw it—and I’m an early adopter on the Web. I can’t imagine people like my sister, dad, etc.—Web users but not necessarily Web savvy—would have picked up on it, either.

Reverse engagement. Many of the new Web-video platforms are integrated in the key events and mixers among the hip and happening in the business, but you never see any of the networks involved or having a presence. It doesn’t mean you’ve got to park marketing at South by Southwest next year, but consider upping the ante by sponsoring or hosting events that target the online demographic. It can help build your online brand.

TV Can Be a Brutal Business

September 22, 2008 3:56 PM

Oh, wicked television. How you vex me. I came to you with your best interests in mind, to help you, particularly with your little problem the Internet. I know you’re struggling. I know your audiences are falling away as where and how to reach them becomes increasingly blurry. I expanded my work to your backyard because I thought I might have some of the answers. I love you and want to have one of those amazing, happy relationships.

But, oy! You are one tough business. So many complexities, so many factors. Your needs seem constant!

Just kidding. But I am constantly in awe of how complicated creating shows can be. It’s overwhelming at times. I sometimes feel like managing my project is like being the parent of a wayward teenage daughter. Sometimes she comes home and is sweet, giving me hope that she’ll stay in line. Other times, she completely ignores me and I feel like she’ll never grow up and move out.

I come from a different world, where execution is relatively simple, streamlined and inexpensive. I’m enduring my work in the TV market pretty well, I think, and my projects are going really well, but the entire production and development process is truly amazing.

I would just like to say to every single producer, development executive, sound and lighting crew member and everybody else who does the work on a day-to-day basis, I admire you.

Forget celebrities. I’m becoming a fan girl for star showrunners and development execs.

It doesn’t come as a surprise to find so many producers trying to create Web shows or move into other areas. The Web is a lot easier, with less process. But, the tradeoff, of course, is that the money is different.

I think big things are always hard to do. I’m not surprised at all that it’s so difficult to create projects for the broadcast network.

But that’s what I like about you, television business. You’re no easy catch, and you definitely make your suitors work for it.

I will win you over yet. Just you watch! I’m sure working on it.

Will the Economy Affect Television?

September 19, 2008 5:50 PM

The news has been reporting a very shaky world lately. Business drama, hurricanes, economic woes. Gas is expensive, unemployment is said to be at 6.6%. People are in fear of losing their homes, there have been layoffs.

Most people reading today’s Digital Dish post will recall the last time the economy situation happened, in early 2000 following the dot-com bust. I was just a greenhorn tech executive at the time, just a few short years in my formal, higher level career. I didn’t really think I’d see economic madness and disruption twice in my lifetime but here we are.

What is always very curious to me is the reflection of the times in our world.

I don’t just mean companies losing money or all the bad news, but also in the changing look, feel and shape of what consumers need and want. Ups and downs have been reflected in products, concepts, businesses, media—nearly every element of life.

The “Atomic Fireball” candy was first born during the atomic age decades ago. Many of Shakespeare’s plays are a snapshot of modern life and times.

There have been endless examples since nearly the dawn of human existence. I’ve always found this to be very interesting, both as a creator and a consumer. Art truly does imitate life.
Lately, I’ve wondered what the shift might be resulting from the current world and climate. I believe there’s a chance of giant change in what audiences find palatable.

I also wonder if there will be an increase in television viewership as a result of Americans tightening their belts. Will low cost entertainment become a replacement for nights out on the town again? There was an article in the Sept. 6 edition of The Economist that talked about an increase in television during Ramadan, as few people go out during the month-long fast.

Could a perfect storm be brewing in a sense, one that could bring audiences back to the small screen in their homes?

I’d love to hear entertainment and TV veterans’ thoughts on this.

Update on Projects as Emmy Excitement Builds

September 18, 2008 2:09 PM

It’s exciting to be in the television/entertainment business going into Emmy weekend. I was just a fashion writer before, so going into it now as an industry exec is an entirely new experience.

It comes at a time where I’m also in the process of shopping a few projects. One, as I’ve mentioned, is a broadcast show with an interactive/Internet tie baked in. The others are Web show concepts I’m working to bundle into palatable bites that networks, audiences and brands can attach to.

Things are progressing along with my broadcast project. It’s exciting! My Web concepts are still a little early—but just as thrilling.

The Web projects are easier to make production-wise, but there’s a trick to monetizing. I’ve been working on a formula and am aggressively putting the pieces in place to make it possible.

Some of the important elements of creating and selling Web shows aren’t fully developed just yet.

I like the work, but I still find it incredibly complicated at times.

Putting together, shopping and ultimately selling a television show is an enormous project. There are so many people involved, so many elements to bring together, maintain and manage. Right now, we are taking some specific, strategic steps to bring the best possible package to a network. It’s been a ton of calls and callbacks, discussions, etc.

It’s all really exciting, but I’m anxious to be three months from now, when I’ll know the outcome!

I think networks will be excited with what we have to offer and, more importantly, the audience will love it. The idea came after a few years of seeing conversations online about various celebrities, shows and characters. I’m convinced there are specific differences between what the public will look at and what it will attach to. Everybody watches celebrities, or takes a look. But what they become truly engaged and passionate about seems to require a little more than catching their attention.

I built the project based on what I believe drives engagement among viewers. I’m eager to see if I’m right about it! More on this soon.

What I Want to Create Now

September 15, 2008 5:52 PM

It has been a tough day for me with projects, hence the lateness of today’s post.

What starts out as something that feels so full of promise is always subjected to those times when it seems like nothing’s going on. People are deciding, thinking, doing their thing. Hello, haven’t they figured out that business doesn’t wait for anyone?!

I jest, but still. There are days when you feel like Tom Cruise in "Top Gun" and everybody loves you, and days when you are Tom Cruise on Oprah’s couch and everybody just shrugs.
You can guess which of these I’ve been feeling like today.

It’s just business—and it holds true in any business. But I can’t lie. It doesn’t make it any easier, no matter what kind of project or market. I waited nearly two long years for the end result of my Internet startup, and I’m sure the same will go for any project in any market, now and forever.

The ticket, of course, is to keep moving and keep focused. Right now, I’m developing three or four new ideas for the Web, which I will be working to bundle with revenue and sell to a buyer.

Here’s a sneak peek at what they are:

Teen reality series: I know most of the market is all over comedy, webisodes and docu-reality series targeting the 18-25 demographic, but I’m convinced there’s opportunity in the younger part of the market. I’m currently creating a couple of ideas that will not just tap that demographic, but hopefully inspire girls.

News/talk shows: I believe this format for Web TV has a greater adoptability rate than webisode series, and I’m dying to see if I’m right. Two of my new concepts fall into this space and are going to be super fun. Hint: I’m really excited about things like travel and parenting.

Concepts that inspire UGC: Nobody talks about user-generated content the way they used to, but I still think there are a lot of consumers who would attach to the idea of creating short video projects of their own. One of my Web show ideas leaves plenty of room for just that. It’s professionally produced, but is a concept designed to inspire the audience to create as well.

Will these ideas work? We will soon find out!

Pay Attention to Promoting Web Shows

September 12, 2008 5:56 PM

With Internet video revenue still in an early phase, much of the budget for Web TV content goes directly into production. This is true particularly for producers who are creating on their own (without a brand sponsor). It leaves very little for marketing your work.

But the good news is that the barrier of entry for publicizing projects has never been lower, thanks entirely to the Web. Just a little time and effort on someone’s part can help generate buzz and traffic for just about anybody producing shows. All it takes is a few quick steps:

Distribution is important. Where you put your content counts. Consider various options and create a strategy before you launch. Work with larger brand/recognizable sites or marry the audience to yours, but have a firm, solid idea in advance. All your marketing/promotion efforts will stem from there.

Get cozy with relevant bloggers and media. I think a successful buzz campaign includes both traditional media and blogs that cover Web TV (yours truly is an example). Contact information is generally available on most sites. Update reporters/bloggers on what you’re doing. Be sure to keep it simple.

Social network. Get the word out but keep it targeted. Use the majors like Twitter, Bebo, MySpace and Facebook and keep the emphasis on moving the audience to your Web site via link-backs, etc. There is no reason to do the effort if it’s not generating a visible return. I’m a fan of offline campaigns as well, but be selective! They usually cost more time and/or money.

The strategies vary in size and duration depending on the nature of the project and who is behind it, but little has changed in what works in marketing content from the past. Even though it’s by way of a new distribution channel (the Internet), the same strategies generally apply.

It’s a Big Week for Web Video

September 8, 2008 8:46 AM

It’s going to be an exciting week for Internet video. First, the pioneer product of the Seth MacFarlane/Google relationship hits the Web on Wednesday. As a reminder, this is the product of an allegedly nine-figure deal between the "Family Guy" creator and the search/tech giant. I love "Family Guy" and can’t wait to see what MacFarlane creates in his "Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy."

Turbo Dates

It’s also the week that screenwriter Terry Rossio ("Shrek," "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl") unveiled his Web video project, which this digitally dished girl attended Saturday night (with a broken ankle and crutches, thank you). I’m not spilling any beans on the series, “Turbo Dates,” except that it’s great to see how far Internet video has evolved in just this past year. The writing, talent, look, feel and, most of all, thought that went into the project are just enormous.

Word on the street is that Katalyst Media’s new digital effort, Blah Girls, is set to unveil this week as well. Katalyst is owned in part by actor-producer-writer Ashton Kutcher. Few details have been revealed about the project beyond reports that it’s a cartoon gossip show that looks/feels "South Park"-esque.

I’m already a fan. I’ve posted about there being a need to think beyond webisodes to other Internet TV formats. Both the Rossio and Katalyst projects seem to do just that.

Let’s remember that this all comes in the wake of a recently announced MTV web video project and the launch of fashion magazine Vogue’s Web show "Model.Live." EQAL ("LonelyGirl15," "Kate Modern") is said to be launching something new soon.

Web TV might be young, and still difficult to monetize, but early efforts like this are enormous.

It’s not just limited to big Hollywood stars, either. My digital consulting/production company 9 Group is talking this week with a talent management company about Web TV initiatives. The goal is to leverage its writers, producers and directors with our digital background to create and produce shows, particularly for the women’s demographic.

It’s going to be an incredible week for Web TV—and a huge step for Web TV business!

Time to Find Out How Hollywood Receives My Idea

September 5, 2008 8:46 AM

It’s finally crunch time on the show project I’ve been developing. It’s out being pitched and there has been some pretty good early interest so far. I can’t wait to find out if anybody buys it, and, especially, whether the interactive components I tied to it will appeal to network executives.

As I mentioned before, I’ve always wanted to create media and entertainment projects that bridge the gap between old platforms and the Internet. I would love for the show and its interactive concept to become a model for what can work in the business. We’ll see!

Speaking of the business, last Wednesday was my five-month anniversary of expanding into entertainment.

When I ask myself what has stood out in making the move from the Web world, it has been the many layers to the industry, and how revenue is always the first thing on everybody’s agenda.

It’s a long ways away from the mindset of “Build it first, monetize later” that you hear/see on the Internet side. I have since adopted this mentality and can only say it’s been for the better of my business efforts.

I also understand why the entertainment business has all those layers to it.

I can relate to the many producers and writers who want to create Web content. It’s incredibly hard to make and sell a television show. There are only so many slots a network can fill. I have met with several in the industry who are eager to create ideas they’ve had, concepts that were pitched and shot down, etc. It’s really fun to see people get excited about the possibilities of the Web like this!

It makes me wonder if someday it will be more competitive for networks to find writers, producers, etc. We’re probably a long way from that.

No less, I definitely love the entrepreneurial spirit and climate in Hollywood right now. It’s fantastic!

In all, I’m having a blast, but we’ll see how things go with my projects.

I do sometimes miss writing about things like handbags and patent yellow flats. I might have to create a fashion show next!

Next week, off to New York—I’ll be blogging Digital Dish from there.

A Call For Paid Content

September 3, 2008 9:37 AM

If there’s one important element about the internet, it’s that what we do now can set things up for the future. I’ve posted in the past about how the web is a sophisticated communications structure designed to merge multiple existing platforms (telephone, TV, etc.) into one, and that industries must learn to marry their audiences to it in order to successfully adapt.

StrikeTV website

One of the web’s goals, by design, is to merge into broadcast television. We are seeing the very early signs of this now.

What this looks like if you peer ahead: television as we know it, only better. More stable, more accessible, and most importantly, more open. It’ll pipe right into your 52” flat panel, your handheld’s new video-ready screen, or over your traditional computer–anywhere you go.

It will open up the opportunity for exciting new “television” networks, like Strike.TV, and enable greater capacity for a wider variety of shows. Right now, it’s extremely difficult to get a series made, as there are only so many slots a network can fill. With the web, this will be expanded. Model.Live is an early example.

It all sounds very exciting but there’s one critical flaw: it needs revenue models.

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Settling Confusion About Web TV

September 2, 2008 2:10 PM

I read two New York Times articles today about Web television, both of which were well written and informative, citing a lot of the key people, including a few this TV/Internet blogger considers pioneers with the right mindset.

It was exciting to read both stories. It means the path the Internet was designed to take dozens of years ago is actually starting to materialize in the market.

But also, in reading both articles, I couldn’t help but get the sense that they stemmed more from research and interviews than a real sense or understanding of the Web TV market. One article left out two big elements in the webisode/professional content market, while the other didn’t match the things heard or seen among networks regarding the Web. Neither referenced anything related to the development of IP-ready television sets or what the Internet is designed to do in relation to television distribution. One of them should have.

It’s not a failure on the part of either publication or any journalists or bloggers. Web TV is new, the Internet as a platform is new, and it is going to take time for everybody in business to adapt and adjust to it. It’s complicated stuff.

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