Back in the early days of cable tv, a number of networks tried tried to entertain its audience with short form programming: E!, Comedy Central, Bravo, IFC, and others. And in each case, the lesson learned was that television audiences preferred longer form programming and so did the advertisers associated with it. These networks and others changed to traditional half hour and longer programming blocks with regularly scheduled hours to promote, find, and keep its audience.
So will short form video programming work on the internet? To a certain extent, it is an ideal way to find an audience, but is that audience large enough or segmented enough to find the advertisers to finance it. Today, it feels a bit like a fad. I say the lesson learned from TV is that it will not last. It seems to me that when things finally settle down, the following scenario will occur regarding video entertainment:
1. Viewers will still go to their TV to watch long form programming.
2. The cable box will talk with the internet and the DVR and on-demand features will be easily managed by pc, mobile, and/or remote control. Any TV in the household will have access to programming saved for later viewing.
3. The cable box will enable more social networking in real time with the programming being watched on the box. Blogging about our shows will stay strong.
4. Comcast, Time Warner, and other distributors will each partner with (or purchase) an internet video platform (Joost, Maven, Blinkx, etc) to integrate with their technology and help manage a positive consumer experience.
5. New laptops and other handhelds will wirelessly communicate with their cable box.
6. Short form programming will still be seen on the web so as to easily share the best of the best video programming. Extra programming - associated with long form content (i.e. Heroes extras, etc) will remain, but again accessible to suit the user experience across ALL devices - TV, pc, mobile.
7. Many other short form programming, not connected to a network type format will either fade away, or combine into longer form type programming. And those that remain will be done for fun, but not for profit.
8. All digital video will be watermarked and traceable to its source; companies will heavily prosecute illegal video sharing activity.
9. New word "transferability" - what you purchase on cable (NFL, MLB, Concerts) will be available on your multiple devices: cable tv, pc, mobile. We are a mobile society and want our programming to follow us. And advertisers will pay for those synergies.
10. NBC brings back Must See TV on Thursdays!
So that is my prediction, for whatever it's worth. Put it in the envelope, hide it for 5 years, and re-read - let's see how many of these points come true.