Online video: two new original content sites debut

31 07 2007

Two new services had the wraps taken off today, both promising to put some finesse into online video. was conceived by Rob Barnett, formerly a MTV and CBS Radio exec., with contributions from comedian and Simpsons and This Is Spinal Tap star Harry Shearer, muso Don Was, comedian Paul Reiser and filmmaker David Wain. The site is billed as “an entertainment studio and new media platform created to empower artists to co-produce, distribute and monetize original, episodic video content.”

The aim is to host short-form content both within the site and to syndicate content via third party sites social network and video sharing sites, including a branded channel on YouTube. Revenue will generously be split on a 50:50 basis between the site and the content creator, reports Variety (for the Google deal it’s 50% to mydamnchannel and the other half to Google).

David Wain, best known for appearing in MTV’s 1990s comedy series The State, as well as directing his own material, will produce Wainy Days, a 10-part web-exclusive series, following his dating exploits.

Harry Shearer will produce and star in a seven-week series of pop culture and political spoofs, as well as a 20-part series of animated shorts.

In further echoes of the linear broadcast model, there’ll be an emphasis on content refresh rates on a weekly basis.

“There’s a slew of sites with hundreds of thousands of videos that are impossible to find,” Rob Barnett told Variety. “We’re taking a very different approach than all the YouTube imitators.”

In its coverage the New York Times has gone a 2.0 step further by embedding one of the vids from the new site. [The same piece also references Next New Networks and Funny or Die, also worth a look at if you’re curious as to how indie-driven online comedy offers are shaping up.] But there’s also a killer quote from Barnett on the lack of imagination driving equivalent TV network offers rights now: “Their strategy is to try to force feed a lot of pre-purposed programming onto the Internet to make a quick buck. What I wasn’t seeing was a charge to create new and original content for an audience that frankly is a little bit smarter than some of the crusty old media moguls.”

Additional coverage from Time lays it on thick on the distinctiveness [disruptiveness?] of the offer, compared with mainstream counterparts [somewhat ironic, coming from AOL TW], while the Hollywood Reporter echo sentiment expressed by Barnett in the NYT: “”The old media companies don’t know how to correctly program for this medium — they have senior vice presidents on top of vice presidents telling the most talented people in the world how to sing and act. We’re giving artists total freedom, and we’re paying for everything — technology, bandwidth, PR, production and promotion to put up a fully functioning Web site.”

mydamnchannel is backed by an undisclosed sum from Okapi Venture Capital.

Also bowed today was, the much-anticipated launch from Hollywood’s United Talent Agency and online ad agency Spot Runner and backed by filmmarkers the Coen brothers. Judging by the holding page in place at time of posting, it’s more of a press / investor ploy right now than for joe punter.