Web Video

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Amateur filmmakers hoping to win fame for amusing moments captured on camcorder ought to stick to TV's long-running America's Funniest Home Videos. These days they're not getting much love on the Web. One after another, online video sites that have long showcased such fare as skateboarding dogs and beer-drenched parties are scaling back their focus on user-generated clips, often in favor of professionally produced programming. "People would rather watch content that has production value than watch their neighbors in the garage," says Matt Sanchez, co-founder and chief executive of VideoEgg, a company that provides Web video tools, ads, and advertising features for online video providers and Web application developers. On Nov. 13 social networking site Bebo said it would open its pages to top media companies in hopes of luring and engaging viewers. "As more and more interesting content from major media brands becomes available, [online viewers] are going to share that more and more because those are the brands they identify with," says Bebo President Joanna Shields. Another site, ManiaTV, recently canceled its user-generated channels altogether (BusinessWeek.com, 10/22/07). The 3,000 user-generated channels simply didn't pull in enough viewers, ManiaTV CEO Peter Hoskins says. Roughly 80% of people were watching the professional content produced by celebrities such as musician Dave Navarro and comedian Tom Green. "What we found out is, we don't need the classical user-generated talent when we have the Hollywood talent that wants to work with us," Hoskins says. Sony's (SNE) Grouper in July relaunched as Crackle, sans user-generated content. Its only fare: professional-grade programming. News Clips Are No. 1 There's no question that Web surfers want to watch video online. Over 57% of U.S. Internet users say they have watched or downloaded online videos, according to a July study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. But they're not flocking to home videos. According to the study, viewers are most interested in news videos, followed by comedy bits and television shows. Research by Burst Media, an Internet ad network that studies the video market, echoed the findings, ranking news clips, movie trailers, comedy sketches, music videos, and TV shows as the top categories. The category that includes clips produced by users placed ninth out of 11. Hollywood is flooding the Web with slick new shows produced specifically for the Net. Over the past 12 months, writers, actors, and entertainment studios have embraced the medium as never before, creating original made-for-the-Web series and distributing television shows along with behind-the-scenes content and DVD-like extras.

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