The New Cable?

Is Web the new cable? That’s the question at Tubefilter after some SXSW panels. There certainly are some parallels between the rise of cable and the rise of original Web content. But in a lot of ways cable was just TV without the budgets and the content constraints. You could say the same for Web, I suppose. But for Web to rival cable, or network TV (whatever the difference is), it needs to be more than just a low-budget, artistically unfettered version of the mothership. At SXSW, Hulu execs talked about raising the quality of their content to compete for TV awards. That’s a good step because great content that critics talk about has certainly been a proven model for attracting audiences (see the history of HBO). But I get the feeling that Web originals need to be more than just great. The Web is a two-way medium. Great content on the Web is wonderful, but it doesn’t really need to be on the Web unless it’s also interactive. Maybe that’s the opening for social TV. Or maybe it’s something that hasn’t been thought of yet. Maybe we just need an inspirational infographic, like this one from YouTube’s Super Bowl Ad Blitz. (Yes, they’re still talking Super Bowl — and probably will be until the next one — over at YouTube).

Short form. One thing the Web does really well in terms of content right now is fill the gaps left open by television formats. In TV, it’s either 30 minutes or 60 minutes (some networks have played with the 15 minute show). But on the Web, one-off shorts, even if they are longer than a 2-minute viral video, can find a home. Kony is one example. But the Obama campaign has another. Yes, it’s a campaign spot, but at almost 17 minutes, it’s a great example for marketers who want engage through video in a longer format.

DramaFever. That’s the name of a new startup that just scored some serious venture capital. TechCrunch has the dets on a cool concept that lets North American audiences watch TV content from around the globe. If they can achieve scale and American advertisers can drill down on how to market to U.S. immigrant communities (probably the tougher sell), then it’s an idea worth watching.

TV Everywhere coming soonish. PaidContent has a nice post on the triumphs and setbacks of TV Everywhere as viewed through the new HBO Go platform. Long story short: it’s possible for all of us to have TV Everywhere, but whether we get it or not depends on our cable provider, and many of them are still dragging their feet.

Mobile mouse. Disney did a redesign to cater to an increasingly mobile audience. Apparently, kids and tweens like watching video on their phones and tablets. And apparently mom and dad have unlimited data plans.