Web Series World News: Companies laying off digital video staffers

(Stareable) #1

Welcome to Web Series World News, where we as a community discuss current events in the digital and TV worlds! Today’s topic:

Digital layoffs

In late 2017, Cracked laid off the majority of their video and editorial staffers, a few weeks ago, it was Funny Or Die, and this week CNN laid off at least 50 more staffers (not to mention the staffers who were laid off after they shut down Beme, the Casey Neistat collaboration they’d acquired last year). Here are even more examples of what’s being dubbed the “great digital media purge.”

Given that the job opportunities in digital video were slim to begin with, what are your thoughts about these trends? Are you worried, or is this just par for the course for new media as it finds its place in the larger industry?

Let us know your thoughts!

(Bri Castellini) #2

@Alex_LeMay @Anthony_Ferraro @hermdelica @SnobbyRobot @SecretLivesPS @FilmFaction @filmwritr4 @movieguyjon @Jessi_Almstead @whoisjonporter @JonSosis @ghettonerdgirl @OSTSG @mdec24 @kmd @floorthirteen @OddLantern @dj_tilney @Halen_Williamson @mkatiehunter @rjlackie @barbaramcthomas @Yuri_Baranovsky @ronVceo @georgereese

(Joseph Brett) #3

I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. Obviously it’s not great for those who’ve lost their jobs… But I think most of those jobs were created when larger media companies started noticing the rise of indie developed content on places like youtube, newgrounds, etc, and started trying to reproduce that indie success for themselves.

I don’t think that’s been the money spinner they all hoped, because the strongest aspect of web videos is often the individual/niche voices which are able to thrive outside of a corporate environment. No one wants to watch CNN pretend they ‘get you’.

Maybe this will lead to a growth in places like Stareable, which offer a platform to indie voices, without attempting to copy and kill them.

(Bri Castellini) #4

I think that’s the central issue though, that right now there isn’t a solid monetization structure for digital video streaming because for the first ten years (or so) of its existence, it’s been provided largely for free. And that’s something indie filmmakers end up getting hurt by- the inability to have or promise any kind of ROI when they put out a project

(Joseph Brett) #5

Yes, totally. I think the biggest mistake that’s been made was when existing media companies thought “we should be doing this and make some money”, instead of “we should represent these guys and make both of us money”. I think things like the vimeo rental service are a great step in the right direction, but there’s still a long way to go.

(Bri Castellini) #6

Do you think casual viewers are going to accept a video rental service? Do you think we’re going to see a rise in people willing to pay for indie content? We’ve seen people are willing to pay for Netflix/Amazon/Hulu (instead of just illegally streaming movies and TV) but do you think they’re willing to do the same for unknown indie content?

(Jaime Lancaster) #7

Do you mean like media companies should have found them traditional opportunities, like High Maintenance/ Issa Rae?

(sam lockie-waring) #8

i mean i’m always worried. ideally i’d stay in digital if that was an option, but it feels like the only way you can make money is build an audience in a demo that has cash to spare for like a patreon style thing or get lucky and pitch your digital sizzle to a so-called “real” media company

(Joseph Brett) #9

That’s the question right there. I think as more producers move to those services to justify their production costs, it may become more accepted that better content comes at a price. But I don’t know. Like you say, it’s been free for so long that a precedent’s been set. But I think the alternative is that we make or production costs through advertising, and it also feels like audiences’ tolerance for that it waning. Or maybe that’s just me.

(sam lockie-waring) #10

advertising like pre-roll ads on youtube or advertising like brand shout outs in-video? i think audiences are getting used to the latter same way we did back in the day before dvr on regular tv. podcasts and youtubers made it ok again to shout out a brand- people get it. the money sitch is way more transparent now especially online

(Meg Carroway) #11

Same. And Patreon seems like a weird model too- with so much content out there, even $1 spread amongst a fraction of the people I follow is more than I can handle. I think it’s also a matter of making it frickin impossible to get discovered even if you have a good quality show/project/whatever because social media algorithms are working against you

(Meg Carroway) #12

How does indie find an audience or even a single brand or media company to root for them? If a big company can crumble, or a beloved and years old one like Cracked can let go of its employees who were there for over 10 years and loved by fans, what hope is there for us who no one knows about??

(Jonathan Hardesty) #13

This is certainly a worrisome and perplexing problem (as someone who edits video content for the web), but I wonder what would have happened if no one had led with “free content.” Perhaps less people would have been on board, but then perhaps there wouldn’t be a “falling out” down the road?

(Joseph Brett) #14

Yeah, I think people are getting used to youtubers shouting out brands, but I don’t think anyone is pretending most vloggers aren’t essentially infomercials with humour. I think when you’re trying to watch something narrative, and you compare the experience of netflix to youtube, netflix seems like a safe, focussed platform, while youtube increasingly looks like a pirate station for streaming tv shows. I think if we want to be serious about creating content which competes with studios, the experience and surroundings in which that content is seen has to be considered.

(Bri Castellini) #15

But also, how would indie people have gotten anywhere without those free content options? If the content wasn’t free, then the barrier for entry would have been higher and gatekeepers would reign even more than they already do (or than they do in a sneaky way with algorithms)

(Jonathan Hardesty) #16

Yeah, I wonder about that. I look to something like Geek & Sundry, which has had quite the clear path between their free and paid content with Project Alpha. It would be interesting to see what kind of research they were able to do, because as a consumer I transitioned to paying for that content from just getting it whenever it was available free on whatever platform. I, myself, am a hard sell for anything more than $0, but I can get there.

Maybe these bigger companies are learning that the hard way. Maybe we can’t make “free and then figure out how to monetize on top of that” the path anymore.

(Meg Carroway) #17

I dunno, for indie at least, I think younger audiences are growing up with the expectation that they’ll hear a blue apron or audible brand thing at some point, because they know the creator isn’t getting money anywhere else. And we were fine with ads in our media for a really long time, it’s just that there’s so much digital content out there it’s hard to get a piece of that pie

(Meg Carroway) #18

What’s Project Alpha?

(sam lockie-waring) #19

discoverability is a whole other deal my dude

(sam lockie-waring) #20

yeah i agree with this. it’s just a much less straightforward sales pitch now that it’s not an option of 20 cable channels but billions of smaller ones.