Some called it salacious. Some said it was too “Project Runway.” Some refused to vote.
But the inaugural contest to find the hottest male Web host, thrown by TVWeek.com and my weekly video blog, “New Media Minute,” drew 24,000 ballots and we now have a winner.
New-media and old-media readers, meet the first recipient of our Hottie award: David Price, the host of Black20.com’s “The Middle Show.”
Mr. Price received 32% of the votes, while Michael Somerville of “Love, Somerville” logged 23% and Leo Laporte of “This Week in Tech” earned 20%. Here is a closer look at each of these Web hosts and how they harnessed the power of online marketing to beat out some tough competition in the contest.
Accusations of tawdry journalism aside, their finishes in the tournament provide object lessons for all Web video creators and producers on how to market yourself online.
David Price, “The Middle Show,” Black20.com
David Price’s run in the Hottest Web Host tournament exemplified the power of grassroots marketing. Mr. Price, who hosts sort of an online late-night comedy show, was not on the original list of 16 contenders.
When the founder of Black20 suggested Mr. Price as a contestant, I challenged Black20 to generate enough comments on TVWeek.com on his behalf to warrant a write-in slot.
After a posting in the Black20.com forums, TVWeek.com received more than 100 votes for Mr. Price. With that, he was awarded a wild-card slot in the final round. In that round, he went up against powerhouse Web personalities including “Diggnation’s” Kevin Rose and “This Week in Tech’s” Leo Laporte.
To win, Mr. Price employed decidedly low-tech tactics. He sent out e-mail messages to his personal list of about 400 friends and family and then enlisted each of his six brothers and sisters to do the same.
Several producers and editors at Black20 embarked on their own e-mail campaigns, reaching out to friends and family and urging them to vote for Mr. Price.
In addition, Mr. Price created a Facebook “event” around his candidacy and posted it on the social networking site as well as the Black20 Facebook page, reaching about 2,000 people collectively.
He also updated his Facebook status every 15 minutes with the same message. That ensured that when his friends logged on, they would be greeted with a message urging them to vote for him in the contest. Other Black20 employees did the same on their Facebook pages.
Mr. Price said he regularly uses grassroots marketing tactics to promote his show, including passing out flyers on the street when he is shooting. During the contest he gave out flyers and asked people to vote for him.
“It was a great way to unite people and fans and get the word out that someone else is recognizing you,” he said. “Every guy wants to be sexy, and we thought [winning] would be great material for future humor things we can play off on the show.”
Mr. Price became the host of “The Middle Show” in 2007. The 5-minute show runs every Tuesday and Thursday. Mr. Price has covered New York’s Comic-Con and interviewed Ice T, Stan Lee and others.
Throughout its run, the show has generated more than 8 million views.
Last week, Black20 inked a product integration deal for “The Middle Show” with Loopt, a company that provides social mapping services. The campaign should start in mid-summer.
Michael Somerville, “Love, Somerville,” TitanTV.com
Michael Somerville was the consummate dark horse. His show had launched just three weeks before the contest began. Throughout the contest, people wanted to know, “Who the heck is this Somerville guy?”
Mr. Somerville is the host of “Love, Somerville” on TitanTV.com. It’s a tongue-in-cheek relationship show that pokes fun at modern relationship imbroglios. The show debuted at TitanTV.com on March 12 and is carried by 23 affiliated TV stations on their Web sites.
Mr. Somerville began his career as a standup comic; he’s also columnist “Jake” from Glamour magazine. In that capacity, he writes a monthly relationship advice column, giving the guy’s point of view on relationship issues.
He said it’s part of the job of rising comedians and Web personalities to stay in touch with fans.
During the contest, he reached out to friends via MySpace and Facebook, urging them to vote for him. He also created a Facebook group about his candidacy.
“I looked into the other guys, and they all have established shows and personalities and I am new to the Internet, but I put the word out there,” he said.
When he made it to the second round, he made a bigger push by creating an episode of his show in which he walked down the streets of Manhattan and asked passersby, “Am I hot?”
“Why not run out with a camera and make fun of myself?” he said.
TitanTV posted that episode on Yahoo Video along with the premiere episode of the series; the premiere subsequently earned 240,000 views.
“You need to keep in touch with your fans so when you need their help you can ask,” he said.
Mr. Somerville has appeared on Comedy Central and VH1 and hosts Starz’s “Stand Up or Shut Up,” Encore’s “What Guys Want” and Nick at Nite’s “Road Crew.”
Leo Laporte, “This Week in Tech,” TWiT.tv
Leo Laporte is a technology journalist and the unofficial king of Twitter, the online messaging service.
He is ranked as the Twitter user with the second highest number of followers, second only to Barack Obama. More than 28,000 people follow Mr. Laporte and receive his short Twitter updates.
Mr. Laporte immediately posted Twitter messages about his selection in the Hottest Web Host tournament in each round. Many of his followers quickly voted for him.
He also talked about the contest on his popular audio podcast “This Week in Tech,” which helped drive more votes.
Mr. Laporte also produces a nationally syndicated radio talk show, appears on the popular Web video show “MacBreak Weekly” and posts regular updates on the social networking services Twitter, Pownce and Jaiku throughout the day.
Social networking is a smart way to get in front of fans today, said Kevin Chou, CEO of Watercooler Inc., which creates fan communities for several TV shows.
Who’s the Hottest Guy on the Web?
May 18, 2008 • Post A Comment