A menu for the online video cornucopia
The problem with the Long Tail of video content, as is the case with all Long Tail scenarios, is organization. As cable MSOs scaled up to their legendary 500 channel mark, the electronic programming guide came to fruition, but now online video desperately needs a similar guide for the millions of clips floating around on the Internet. And none of the startups that have taken on this monumental task has gotten it right yet.
MeeVee is perhaps the most impressive of the online video program guides because of its simple user interface and comprehensiveness. MeeVee allows users to create personalized program guides of online video offerings, as well as old fashioned TV programming. The most glaring flaw in MeeVee's offering, however, is that it makes the user work from the very beginning--no online video listings until the user makes some choices and offers his or her own preferences. That will certainly pay dividends in the end, but it'd be better for some new or less savvy users to offer some recommendation from the get-go. MeeVee makes money through ads and promotional messages, which seem to be largely unobtrusive to the user interface.
Another online video comer is Zap2it, which almost doesn't enter into the conversation here since it only pulls from online video portals: Google Video, iTunes and AOL's In2TV. Zap2it is even less user-friendly than MeeVee since it makes the user troll its site through numerous clicks. Also, it only suggests a few editorially chosen programs from its sources.
I have high hopes for TV Guide's online video guide, Project Stingray, which will index and provide summaries for video content on more than 55 websites like A&E's network site, Yahoo TV, iTunes and VH1's VSPOT. Stingray will remain an editorially focused site that offers recommendations on the best of online video offerings from known producers--not user generated content. So, a hybrid approach is still an opportunity for would-be online video EPG startups.
There is a burgeoning list of online video portals that need organization, these three don't begin to cover them all. Will Ferrel's latest video offering on his new online portal, FunnyorDie.com, should be on all these site lists right now. Where is it? -Brian