Revision3 Revs Up Production
Online TV Network Aims to Triple Its Delivery of Video Views by Year’s End
Online television network Revision3 is slated to launch a new Internet TV show this week, one of the many steps in its ambitious goal to deliver by year’s end 10 million video views each month, nearly three times its current tally of 4 million monthly views.
Revision3’s premiere of “Internet Superstar,” coming on the heels of the Jan. 17 launch of new show “The Digg Reel,” is part of a far-reaching strategy to grab ad dollars for online video programming and grow the network through new shows and ubiquitous distribution.
As part of that 2008 strategy, Revision3 will aim to launch about three new shows each quarter, fueled by the company’s $8 million in venture funding.
“Some we launch will succeed, some we launch we will cancel. I want to grow the business, and you have to try a lot of different stuff,” said Revision3 CEO Jim Louderback. He took on the top job last summer with a directive from the company’s board to deliver Internet TV programming consistently and at a high quality.
Revision3’s growth tack for the new year underscores the high stakes in the Web video game. Web video has graduated from lowest-common-denominator, user-generated videos to more professionally produced fare that is starting to dominate online channels such as Veoh, Next New Networks, Revver and even YouTube.
A study from the Pew Internet & American Life Center last year found that 62% of online video viewers said they preferred professionally produced videos.
“I really believe in Internet video there is a flight to quality and a flight to hi-def, and we have moved from Mentos kids and Star Wars boys to telling fiction and nonfiction stories at a higher quality in a studio environment,” Mr. Louderback said during an interview in the company’s San Francisco offices.
To deliver on quality, Revision3 completed construction of a $500,000 high-definition studio at its headquarters earlier this month. All the network’s studio shows, including “Internet Superstar” and “The Digg Reel,” are shot in the new 4,000-square-foot facility.
“Internet Superstar” is hosted by Martin Sargent, a former Tech TV host, who also fronts Revision3 show “Web Drifter.” The new show will feature interviews with Internet celebrities, such as Tom Green in the first episode.
Revision3, one of the best known Internet TV networks, grew its viewership more than 400% last year to 4 million monthly views.
Revision3 focuses on tech-oriented and lifestyle shows and has mushroomed in viewership because its content attracts early adopters of technology and new media. The network’s flagship show, “Diggnation,” draws 1 million views per month.
That attention to quality should help Revision3 grab some of the dollars expected to flood into online video this year. Total online video ad spending should reach $1.4 billion in 2008 and rise to $4.3 billion in 2011, according to eMarketer.
The network’s shows are currently available on its site at Revision3.com, as well as iTunes, YouTube, BitTorrent, Vuze, DivX, CNET.com, Adobe, ADNstream.tv, PyroTV and mobile distributor Transpera.
Revision3 was founded in 2005 by Internet TV pioneers Kevin Rose, Jay Adelson and David Prager. The company was bootstrap funded for about $900,000. Venture capital firm Greylock Partners poured $8 million into the company last summer.
When Mr. Louderback came on board in July, he focused on improving the quality and consistency of the shows. He subsequently canceled three shows and then added several more, bringing the network’s current total to 12, including the two new shows.
“Some were good, some were bad. There wasn’t consistency. Only a few shows were produced on a schedule,” he said.
He placed each show on a weekly shooting schedule and worked with producers to improve lighting, sound, content, pacing and topics. For instance, the network’s “The Totally Rad Show,” which reviews movies, was still shooting on tape and dropping those tapes off at Los Angeles International Airport to ship to San Francisco each week. Now the show is delivered digitally over high-speed broadband. Other shows, including “Systm,” a sort of “This Old House” for geeks, were not produced each week. “Systm” now is on a regular schedule.
As part of the overhaul, the network relaunched its Web site earlier this month to include a new look and feel, community forums for each show, a bigger video player and improved search engine optimization.
“Last summer we did an episode of ‘Systm’ when the iPhone launched, and nowhere in the text, not the headline, did it say ‘iPhone.’ So there are simple things like that that we are doing now,” Mr. Louderback said. Producers are now charged with tagging the videos properly so the content can be easily found during Internet searches.
Many viewers watch the shows on Revision3.com, but like most Internet TV producers, the network’s goal is ubiquitous distribution. “We want to be on Hulu, we want to be on Joost,” Mr. Louderback said.
Revision3’s ad model is sponsorship or product placement. That ensures the advertising lives with the content wherever and whenever the shows are distributed. “It’s done by the host and it works. The hosts are interjecting their personality into the spots. People don’t fast-forward because it’s part of the show,” Mr. Louderback said.
But the network also is exploring new ad formats. Mr. Louderback is talking to ad technology vendors, such as Black Arrow and Free Wheel, about how to implement lower-third ads.
Revision3 usually shares ad revenue 50-50 with its distributors. The network sells on a sponsorship basis and via CPM, with CPMs ranging from $50 to $80. Virgin America VP of Marketing Porter Gale said Revision3 has helped Virgin reach young, intelligent and tech-savvy consumers.
Revision3 competes with online networks and producers such as Next New Network, ON Networks, For Your Imagination and video hosting site Blip.tv.
But in the Internet world order, competitors are also partners. Revision3 and Blip.tv have been working together to cross-promote a number of like-minded shows for the last few months. Then there’s CNET, which is a distributor and a competitor because it produces online video content about technology.
“That is the new world we live in,” said Mark Larkin, VP and executive producer of CNET TV. “We are not as concerned with hemorrhaging audience as we are to using each other to propel the other forward.”
Despite the sharp growth curve for Internet TV, Mr. Louderback doesn’t expect immediate success. “It’s a 10-year process. It’s not going to happen overnight.”