GenuineVC David Beisel's Perspective on Digital Change

May 24, 2006

2006 is certainly turning out to be the “Year of Video”, facilitated by the rise of online video sharing sites and broadcast networks’ moves towards shifting distribution (among many other recent events, like Google’s introduction of video to AdSense).

But one area where (at least) I haven’t seen much attention devoted to yet is local video.

The video format is able to convey and evoke very strong emotional messages, beyond the capabilities of pure text or audio. It has the capability to uniquely and immediately reach viewers in a very personal, visceral way. To me, this capacity appears to match extremely well with many types of local content. Information about people’s local neighborhood and community is one category that strikes at these very same chords of passion, accessibility, and intimacy.

While local television stations have traditionally struggled to attract audiences to their sites, the emergence of video of on the web enabled by broadband adoption has given them a second chance at finding a voice. This Cincinnati Enquirer article profiles how local Ohio stations – far from “media revolution” epicenters of Silicon Valley, New York, and L.A. – have embraced the web as a distribution outlet for their content. It’s a progressive to hear one of WCPO’s news directors, Matt Miller, saying,

“We’re not just a TV newsroom anymore… We’re a news content distributor on whatever platforms are out there right now – TV, the Web, podcasting, cell phones.”

But the opportunity for local video goes far beyond the recasting/repurposing of traditional local television content consisting of news, weather, and sports. The ability to produce and reach a relevant audience with video content has and is continuing to become remarkably easier. This situation should facilitate the creation of local cultural, political, and entertainment content that wasn’t economically feasible under previous structures. I think that the potential for existing local-related online businesses (like cityguides, travel advisory, business directories) is clear. Supplementing existing offerings with video appears to be a natural extension of the information set which they provide.

The fuzzier opportunity which will work itself over time is what other types of local video content will be produced, that users will want to consume, and that advertisers are willing to support. Thoughts? It seems to me that both incumbent players and upstarts alike have a chance run with ideas in this open playing field. (The difficulty, of course, like with any company trying to amass local info, is the ability to generate/produce/obtain a critical mass of content for enough coverage to satisfy consumers of it.)

  • Brian Breslin

    David, Interesting post. What do you think of the idea of an aggregator that feeds off of youtube, googlevideo, etc. and brings locally tagged content together into one “channel” ? It could be easily replicated all over the country.

  • Edward Vielmetti

    I’m trying to imagine what this looks like, and come up with this –

    You (someone, anyone) does a short video about the fresh produce this week at you local farmer’s market. It’s produced quickly and cheaply, uploaded to a national or global video hosting service (e.g. a YouTube), and then promoted and linked through an existing community news or citizen media site.

    I don’t see a new company in this mix, just new uses of existing tools mashed up a different way. In a global hosting environment there’s no particular cost or service advantage in hosting the videos yourself, and some of the better video hosting services have a lot of affordances that make them attractive. The collection of readers and viewers is local, though, but unless you have a huge stream of compelling video-only content you’ll want to embed this in a context that also has all the other elements of community (events calendars, regulars to provide local color, a bar or cafe to adjourn to for in person meetings).

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