Web-video producers have been waiting years for TV dollars to move where the eyeballs increasingly are -- online. But what if TV dollars were to stay where they are and online were to become TV?
That question will be asked repeatedly as big sellers of digital media unveil slates of original programming during the Digital Content NewFronts, which begin this week. They want marketers to think about digital programming in the same way they think about TV.
"To talk about TV as a piece of hardware isn't meaningful or helpful anymore," said Hulu Senior VP-Content Andy Forssell. "What it is useful for is a symbol of the quality bar -- what content stands up to the best of what was on TV last night?"
While Yahoo, AOL, Hulu, MSN, YouTube and others are staying tight-lipped about the particulars, expect the quality and length gaps between web video and TV to collapse.
Traditionally, web video has been dominated by short clips, about three to five minutes, which suited the web's fractured interactive environment as well as its thin economics. YouTube once capped video uploads at 10 minutes.
But episodes of shows made for the web are getting longer. People are certainly watching longer. In February 2011, the average viewer watched 5.1 minutes per video; by February 2012 that had risen to 6.2 minutes, according to ComScore.
"The main goal for all video companies is to bring TV buyers to the table," said AOL Senior VP-Video Ran Harnevo.