Grouper, which was last year purchased by Sony Corp for $65 million, has already re-branded itself as Crackle and re-launched as a “streaming entertainment network” dedicated to finding and screening the latest online talent.
Crackle will feature content supplied from Sony, its many subsidiaries and other exclusive partners. Some content will certainly be funded for production by Crackle, and funded videos that prove popular will be granted additional money to be produced in episodes.
The Evolution of Online Video
Sean Carey, senior executive vice president of Sony Pictures, says this is the “evolution of online video”. He may well be right. Crackle isn’t simply rebroadcasting programs made for TV, nor is it supporting mass uploading of homemade amateur clips. What it’s doing is sourcing talent and producing content exclusively for online video.
Commercially this makes sense – quality programming attracts quality advertisers and quality viewers. Grouper founder, Josh Felser, amusingly points out that “advertisers don’t want their content next to a video of someone jumping off a roof and falling on their head.”
As a further incentive to attract professionally produced content, popular video creators may get the chance to pitch ideas for TV shows and feature films to Sony’s media production companies. There’s every possibility for someone to rise from anonymous online video creator to Hollywood superstar.
Crackle have coined one of the best tag lines I’ve seen so far: “We’re the best content not on television”.
Competition Driving Innovation
YouTube’s monolithic presence on the internet is also beginning to compel other video sharing websites to reinvent themselves. Recently Veoh Networks announced its main focus would become its VeohTV software package, although there is some doubt over the longevity of its business plan.
Ultimately, the overcrowding of this particular online genre is driving some great innovation from smaller companies forced to come up with a more commercially viable strategy. This can only be healthy for users, content providers and advertisers alike – and shows that the web is still an ever evolving sphere of opportunity.