Bridging the Gap between Web Video and Traditional TV

A lot going on in the reimaging video front these days, the frontier where the new world of web video and the old world of traditional TV are butting up against each other, and even melding. A few stories and developments are worth pointing out:

The New York Times has a front page story today bringing the uninitiated up-to-speed on two trends we have been long talking about at the New Politics Institute: the viral nature of online media and the new media habits of the young Millennial Generation. Not a lot new there, but a nice overview with some nice numbers (Young people have tripled their voting numbers from 2004 to 2008 in the 22 states will exit polls so far.)

But there are some other nice stories elsewhere that go deeper. Micah Sifry and Andrew Rasiej have a very nice column in that analyzes the shift from soundbite to what they call "sound blast." and they lay out the numbers for web video that are starting to add up to serious impact. An example:

So far, Obama’s videos have been viewed more than 33 million times on — and that's not counting partial views, since YouTube only reports a full viewing as a “view.” His campaign has uploaded more than 800 video clips, and adds several more a day.

If you just look at his ten most viewed videos, here are some astonishing facts:

  • The average number of views for these top ten is currently more than 1.1 million (nearly double the average from a month ago!)
  • The average length of these ten videos is 13.3 minutes.
  • There have been nearly 3.9 million views of the longest of Obama's most popular videos, his “A More Perfect Union” speech on race in America.

By contrast, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s YouTube numbers are nowhere as impressive as Obama's — a sign of her failure to understand and embrace the new medium than anything else. She’s garnered about 10.5 million views, but the average length of her top ten most viewed clips is only two minutes. Several of her top ten videos are actually 30-second TV ads, in fact.

There is a legitimate argument that traditional television still reaches far more people than video online. That is true, but a development that is just happening today may start to bridge that gap.

A new website called is just launching that will make it very easy for average individuals to create 30-second spots and get them placed on broadcast and cable television, starting with a $1,000 buy. The site is run by an advertising company with deep experience in placing TV ads, called Wide Orbit, in San Francisco.

This could be a very interesting development because you could image people banding together outside the campaigns to raise money to place popular online videos on mainstream TV. Given the looser campaign spending limits for backing ads like this, you could see a lot of money getting channeled this way. We’ll soon see.

And soon enough we will be taking a deeper look at some of these developments at our upcoming Reimaging Video event, It’s in DC on April 24th. Hope to see you there.

Peter Leyden
Director of the New Politics Institute