Integrating TV And The Web: A Lesson From Stephen Colbert

from the the-internet-is-a-series-of-tubes dept

We've had some fun in the past pointing out some really bizarre statements from television execs who clearly don't recognize the new media landscape they're facing. However, we're not quite sure what to make of this "former" TV exec who has jumped into the online news world of CNET's News.com, but still seems somewhat confused about how the internet works. He's talking about an amusing contest that Stephen Colbert launched this week on his TV show. Every week, Colbert profiles a Congressional district (in his 434-part series, "Better Know A District"). A few weeks back, that district was California's 6th district (the fightin' sixth!). The district, just north of San Francisco, contains the Skywalker Ranch, and Colbert included an amusing "green screen" version of a lightsaber fight that seemed to take choreography cues more from "The Star Wars Kid" than any actual fight scenes in any of the movies. At the end, Colbert notes to an off-screen person, jokingly, that George Lucas is supposed to fill in the CGI later. Of course, with the folks behind The Daily Show and The Colbert Report well known for encouraging their online fans to pass around clips online, it was no surprise that some fans took it upon themselves to add in the CGI for Colbert.

Sensing an opportunity, the show started promoting some of the videos and launched the contest, providing the clip as raw material for anyone who wanted it. Some of the resulting videos are quite amusing. However, the former TV, now internet, exec suggests that the whole thing shows how Colbert doesn't get the internet-TV integration because the videos are all hosted on YouTube rather than on Colbert's own site. This is followed up by a confusing statement about how Colbert is trying to "use the Web to force people to watch his TV show." First off, it's not at all clear how this is "forcing" anyone to watch his TV show -- though, the attention could get more people interested in watching his show. But, more to the point, whether on purpose or not, it makes a lot of sense for Stephen to leave those videos on YouTube. YouTube's very success is because it's so easy to use. Part of the value in the web is that it doesn't really matter where the content is -- since you can point to it (and, increasingly, integrate it). Eventually, the Colbert site could easily integrate the videos it likes from YouTube (which, again, YouTube makes easy) rather than hosting it themselves. Trying to force all the fan-generated content onto his own site and away from YouTube is about controlling the content -- which seems more like a traditional TV view of things, rather than an understanding of TV-internet integration. It's the same type of TV thinking that had NBC force YouTube to block Saturday Night Live's best advertisement in years and force it to live only on NBC's servers where many fewer people went to see it.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    JackR, Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 3:29am

    it's all they know

    so they fight the lack of control. however, what the guy says doesn't make much sense. the comparison between colbert and al gore is particularly odd.

     

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  2.  
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    Pete, Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 3:55am

    Colbert

    Colbert is a great satirist, so if he says he's using something to "force" people to watch his show, it's a joke. The comment epitomizes the content of his show, which is the best modern _true_ satire available.

     

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  3.  
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    JJ, Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 4:01am

    Re: Colbert

    It was the guy at news.com who said force, not colbert.

     

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  4.  
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    Andyware, Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 4:38am

    A lot of people cant read, and even more cant understand what they read.

     

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  5.  
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    alternatives, Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 5:44am

    Why should Colbert pay?

    Pay for the video bandwidth yourself, or let someone else pay for it?

    Hrmmm.....

     

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  6.  
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    Anony Mouse, Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 5:49am

    Re:

    What're you saying?

     

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  7.  
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    Bob Jones, Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 5:53am

    How to handle clips

    I think what the networks/studios should do is provide clips on their website, (with their branding), and create a way for people to link to them and share them around on YouTube and other sites.

    If they provided clips people could do what they want with, then the viral advertising would really work.

    Then they'd only have to worry about people using other clips or full episodes on those sites.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 6:18am

    So Colbert is doing a bad job because he doesn't but any stress on his servers or bandwidth? Why would you want your content on your page? Thats kind of like only advertising in front of your store. YouTube gets tons of hits everyday. I started watching Colbert after seeing the hype on the web. Seems to me like comedy central is the only station that found a way to make the web work with television.

     

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  9.  
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    Mousky, Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 6:30am

    It's all about control

    Various execs, industry experts and lawyers believe that the only way to make money is to totally control content. Look at MLB and their silly lawsuit against fantasy leagues. Look at the RIAA. Look at the MPAA. It's all about control.

     

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  10.  
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    s, Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 7:01am

    forced

    I'm being forced to read this blog from the porn I watch in hotel rooms.

     

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  11.  
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    JS Beckerist (profile), Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 8:12am

    Colbert is the funniest man alive

    Whether or not he actually is joking about his subject matter, he's the funniest man on the planet. The CGI contest is great and it's freaking FINALLY that we have someone joking from a conservative perspective. The best part about the whole thing is that I get to watch it the next day any time I want, thanks to YouTube.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 9:00am

    All your base are belong to us.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 9:11am

    Re: Colbert is the funniest man alive

    JS Beckerist said:

    > FINALLY that we have someone joking from a conservative perspective.

    ??? Colbert is as conservative as Al Gore. I think your missing his sarcasm regarding the right.

     

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  14.  
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    Jersey204, Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 9:25am

    Promotion

    This sounds like a classic case of someone gaining a position slightly above their full potential. This news.com executive clearly doesn't understand TV-internet integration, but hell, he deserves a promotion.

     

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  15.  
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    Dehvokahn, Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 11:06am

    The real issue here is ....

    ... seems like I tend to bring focus to the real issue in a lot of things lately ... but here's what I think, believe me right or wrong, just believe something...

    There are two mindsets about what the Internet is all about .... The Microsoft mindset and the Linux mindset ... (bear with me)...

    The Microsoft mindset is all about control. Just look at how Microsoft has been attempting to create it's own answer to the Google revolution, with Microsoft Local, etc ... Microsoft is all about controling the market. No matter how many times the guys over there in Gates Valley say they are more interested in costomers getting what they want, it's all about selling another copy of Windows, Office, or whatever.

    However the Linux mindset (I'm almost to the main point, bear with me) is that knowledge and information belongs to the people, and that we should share that knowledge to better mankind. Linux-mindset-oriented people tend to dislike it when everything is controlled by one source, and everything is then charged to a credit card.

    Bringing me to the basic main point: The guy who switch from TV to Internet and still thinks that it's all about how many things you control is a Microsoft minded individual, while Stephen Colbert is likely a Linux minded individual. OK, so all that to say something that may not be true, and I can't say for sure unless I ask them both. However, the issue here realy isn't about who leans what way or not, it's more about what is going to drive the Internet or even the world today.

    If the Internet is like TV, in that whoever holds the most and best content wins, then the future of the world will be held in the hands of the company that can engage the largest audience and convince the largest audience that they are right and anything else is wrong.

    But the main argument introduced initially by Mike above (I believe) is this: the Internet is NOT about classic control and ownership, but of driving the minds and eyes being engaged towards more interaction with the topics at hand. With the competition put forth by Mr. Colbert, the point wasn't to get more media content to own, it was to engage the audience into creating things and getting involved. This happened, and the winning video will be posted on the Colbert website, all will be well with the world. Why would people post the videos if they thought that it would be owned by Colbert or comedy central?

    The continueing online struggle is that one majority wants to own and control, and another majority wants to share and further everybody, not just themselves. While others in the middle believe that both are noble, and it takes some amount of controling to promote the furthering of the technology to make it available to everyone.

    Which side of the fence are you on? Are you controling, sharing, or more grey than black and white? Remember, your opinion counts!

    -Dehvokahn

     

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  16.  
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    Jake Lockley, Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 3:21pm

    ThePlatform.com

    Again I bring up ThePlatform, a transcoding service now owned by Comcast that lets anyone create their own YouTube. They've been around for a while.

     

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  17.  
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    newmanae, Aug 25th, 2006 @ 7:34pm

    Re: The real issue here is ....

    Did I count two majorities there?
    I love Stephen's show and think he's definately is using the resources at his disposal wisely, but don't imagine he's not a capitalist. He's doing a great job of using the web to promote his show and himself. Don't be suprised to see him working for HBO in the place of that idiot Bill Mahr.

     

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