Viewfinder: How are TV and Video Different?

The phrase "TV show" originated in the 1940s from the phrase "radio show." Both phrases originally referred to broadcast programs. Entertainer Jack Parr started his career with a radio show and successfully transitioned into The Tonight Show, a TV show now hosted by Jay Leno. While the term broadcasting was coined to define TV signals emitted from an antenna on top of a tower, we now consider programs that are transmitted via satellite or cable television to also be "TV shows."

At the beginning of the TV industry, there were very few TV shows so the programs had to be extremely broad in their appeal. With the advent of hundreds of TV channels, dozens of niche networks transmit TV shows with much more narrowly targeted audiences. The term "video" has several definitions, but when we refer to the plural (videos), we are usually referring to videocassettes or DVDs. Half a million viewers is a major success for a "video," but a major TV network might consider 500,000 viewers a disaster.

Videos don't require massive audiences for financial success so their aim is to smaller audiences compared to TV shows. The dominant genres of videos are instructional (how-to) and special interest (documentary). Unlike advertiser supported TV shows, videos retail between $10 and $90 and the viewer expects no commercial interruptions. All of this review seems quite academic, but there's opportunity buried in these details, so read on.

Very few of Videomaker's readers produce TV shows, but nearly all of you produce videos. Most of you want to sell your videos in the marketplace. To date, a small number of video distributors controls the retail marketplace for instructional and special interest videos. While the distribution service to the retail marketplace is critical, many video producers can't seem to succeed. Recognition may be difficult because distributors want to sell at least 10,000 videos to make it worth their effort.

If a video producer is fortunate enough to attain distribution, the "profit sharing" is in the favor of the distributor. Instructional and special interest video producers are lucky to get 50% of the retail price, sometimes only about $10, which requires that the video production and promotional budget be less than $100,000. If a video title has the potential to sell 10,000 copies, the process may take several years. These conditions are challenging for video producers like us. Coming up with $100,000 to invest, so we can sell 10,000 copies over a period of several years, may prevent many of us from reaching larger audiences or generating any income from our videos.

All this is changing, and that's why we're so enthusiastic about vidcasting. You can read more about vidcasting in the past few issues, upcoming issues or by reading Producing Your Own Vidcast for Video Sharing

Matthew York is Videomaker’s Publisher/Editor

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