Viewfinder: Unexpected Problem

For the longest time, one of the greatest challenges for video producers was distribution. While most people have a VCR or a DVD player, making "hard copies" of video is cumbersome and expensive. Most people also have cable or satellite TV, but gaining access to those distribution systems is extremely difficult.

We are now finally seeing large amounts of video being distributed via the Internet. There are many Web sites that offer space for videos to be uploaded for distribution across the Web. MySpace, YouTube, Veoh, Google, ZippyVideo, Furl and VideoEgg are just a few of these sites that empower people to distribute their own video.

This is fantastic news! Many of us have waited a long time for this. Television is rapidly becoming democratized. There are many ways to describe this development. In the long run, it will have a dramatic effect on the videos, movies and TV shows that we watch. Several people have predicted that we're in the midst of a sea change. The Long Tail theory, as a proper noun, was first coined by Chris Anderson in 2004. The essence of this is that low-demand videos can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, if the store or distribution channel is large enough. This is a fascinating vision of the near future, which will become especially interesting when all broadband households include a connection to the TV set. However, along the way, an interesting problem has emerged.

It is difficult to find exactly what you may be looking for when searching on the Web. Let's say that you want to watch a video about pyrotechnics. It is easy enough for you to use the search tools on a video sharing site to try to find videos on pyrotechnics or fireworks. None of these video hosting sites allows the user to search outside of the site. You can't find a fireworks video on YouTube if you are searching on MySpace. Yahoo Video, on the other hand, is an Internet search tool that allows the user to search the entire Internet for videos on fireworks.

Assuming for a moment that this cross searching challenge is solvable, there are still more challenges. Let's say that you produced a great 45-minute video on the topic of pyrotechnics. The budget was $30,000 and it is full of examples and interviews with experts. You decide to distribute it on the Internet and you want it to be easy to find. In fact, you want your video to appear on the top of any video search results page. However, another pyrotechnics video, that is just 3 minutes long with a budget of $3 (for the firecrackers) might have better video searchability and it might be listed far above yours.

This is a new, unexpected problem with Internet video distribution that I am confident will be solved in the coming months and years.

Matthew York is Videomaker’s Publisher/Editor

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