It’s About Adding a Cord, Not Cutting One

Are people cutting the cord (i.e., getting rid of their cable or satellite TV)?

With Apple TV, Google TV, Boxee (the Boxee box is launching this week) and Netflix streaming coming to a huge array of devices, including most importantly the Wii and Xbox and PS3,  the challenge to the traditional television business is now present and very real.

But that threat isn’t about people cutting the cord. Instead, we’re adding a cord  — to the Internet.

The television business in the U.S. has been one of the one of the most profitable walled gardens, and one with the highest walls. Historically, it’s been difficult to get video programming on to your TV that wasn’t supplied by a cable network or television broadcaster or movie studio.

With our new Internet cord, though, we can get instant, on-demand access to programming on our TVs from places like YouTube, Vimeo, blip.tv and 1000s of other sites. The popularity of Netflix streaming — which, by some now figure accounts for 20% of all downstream traffic during the 8-10PM prime time window despite the massive limitations of their library — gives us a taste of what’s to come. On the Internet, we have 10,000,000s of clips to choose from. And that’s coming to a TV near you.

The history of cable television shows how this is likely to play out. As new programming sources are added, the amount of time we spent watching television goes up but the share owned by incumbents goes down. The amount of time we spent watching the traditional broadcast networks plunged as hundreds of new channels were added to cable networks. As we begin to watch more programming from the Internet, with it’s almost infinite supply of programming, cable and broadcast television companies have much to fear. (Graphic Source: tvbythenumbers).

For most American households, the television provides a hard-to-resist gravitational pull once we get home from work (source: Nielsen Webinar). Television viewership surges during the “prime time” hours (whereas usage of the web typically peaks in the afternoon, when people are still at work).

As it becomes as easy to watch YouTube as ABC on our televisions, what we watch during prime time will change. And this presents a huge threat to traditional broadcast and cable television, given prime time viewing accounts for 50% or more of total revenues from advertising for many cable and broadcast networks.

Arguing about “cutting the cord” misses point. That may, or may not, happen. But we’re definitely going to be adding a cord as we plug in our Apple TVs and Google TVs. And that will change things forever.

New Oembed support at Vodpod

Apparently its open month here at Vodpod. Coming on the heels of our support for Oexchange, we’ve just rolled out Oembed support as well. These are somewhat related standards. In our case we’re supporting receiving videos via oexchange, while sending videos via Oembed. We’ve supported ingesting videos via Oembed for a long time. If anyone has an Oembed-reliant tool they want to use with Vodpod please drop me a line and let me know how it goes.

Add the “Share on Vodpod” button to your site

We’re always looking for more ways to make it easier for our users to collect videos on Vodpod. Today we’re introducing the Share on Vodpod button for use on other websites. No doubt you’ve seen Digg and Tweet buttons, not to mention Facebook’s (infamous?) Like buttons. The Share on Vodpod button is a similar idea, to help you add videos you find on other sites to your Vodpod collection.

We’re encouraging video hosts and content sites to add the Vodpod button to their websites. Making it easier to add videos to Vodpod can help your videos get more views from the 10 million+ visitors who come to Vodpod every month. Adding the button is super easy – just a link and a line of Javascript.

By the way, in addition to our custom button, we’ve also added official Oexchange support to Vodpod.com. This makes Vodpod a standard Oexchange target, including standard support for passing us a Flash SWF resource. This makes it easy to support Vodpod via your own button, custom share menu, or a universal share menu like AddToAny.

Vodpod on Facebook Pages (Finally!)

We’ve just checked an item off our to-do list that Vodpod users have asked for, well, forever (or at least it seems that way).

Support for Vodpod on their Facebook Pages.

You can see Vodpod in action on our own Vodpod Facebook page and you can get the Vodpod app for your Facebook page here.

 

If you’ve never added an application to a Facebook Page before, some instructions to help you with that effort:

1. Install the Vodpod application for Facebook.  Just search for “Vodpod” or get the app here.

2. Once you’ve installed the Vodpod Facebook application, click “Add to my Page” link as shown below:

3. Sync up the Vodpod app with the right Vodpod account.

To do that, click “Edit” from your Facebook page (screenshot from our page shown below):

Find the Vodpod application on your page settings (scroll down a bit) and click edit again. We’ll ask you to enter the Vodpod credentials (username, password) for your Vodpod account.

This is just a start. We’re planning to add support for automatic cross-posting to the Wall for your page in next couple of days.

What else would you like?

If you add Vodpod to your Facebook page, feel free to let people know via the Vodpod Facebook Page so we can check it out!

Customizable Profile Pages

We’ve just added some great new customization options to our Vodpod profile pages – custom templates, header images, and RSS!

To access the new template, you’ll need to be a Vodpod Pro member, which opens the door to a number of other great features as well.  We’ve also taken a cue from our friends over at Bandcamp and are allowing image maps for your header images.  Image maps are some old-school HTML, dating back to my middle school years (sorry, Mark) and they’re a great way to easily setup a bunch of header links on a single image.  Check out the profiles above for an example of image maps in action.

While it’s possible to create an image map by hand, we wouldn’t wish that upon our worst enemies.  There are some helpful image map creators on the web at maschek.hu and mobilefish.com.

Additionally, if you have your own blog or website, we’ve built an RSS module that’ll show your 10 most recent blog posts on your Vodpod profile.

To access all this new shiny goodness, head over to your Vodpod Settings page.

And let us know what you think and if you make something snazzy!  If there’s enough interest, we’ll definitely be making some cool new templates in the future.

AddVideo by URL

We’ve always had really advanced but simple tools to make adding a video to your collection easy (the bookmarklet, our importer, etc.)

But we’ve just made things even simpler. You can simply paste in the URL for the video you want to add, either from the bookmarklet (when you’re browsing) or from your Account using the AddVideo button.

Of course, this being Vodpod, it works seamlessly on many video sites, not just YouTube and a couple of others. Quick. Easy. Fast.

Vodpod: The Video Node

Investor Fred Wilson has a really important post up today on AVC. He asks (and answers) this provocative question:

Q. Why did Twitter succeed and FriendFeed fail?

A. Because FriendFeed was largely a social aggregator whereas Twitter is a service with specific social intent.

The added emphasis is mine.

At Vodpod, we fully believe intent is critical determinant when it comes to sharing and social media. What are you sharing? Why? And with whom? A month ago, I wrote a post on my personal blog that addressed this question in a slightly different way, making the argument that most of us need to maintain multiple “nodes” on multiple social “graphs.”  We establish our “friend” node on the Facebook graph, where (historically, at least) we’ve shared photos with limited network of friends; LinkedIn is our resume and professional node; Twitter provides us our news and information node;  last.fm (and maybe, someday, Ping) our music node, and so on.

For people who like to curate and share videos, Vodpod is their video node. Our members start with a specific intent — not just to share, casually, a YouTube video as they might on Facebook or Twitter or perhaps their blog; but instead to share videos consistently, regularly, in one place, from a wide array of sites, and often about a single topic. If your intent, like 101GreatGoals, is to comprehensively curate every significant soccer goal, you probably wouldn’t use Twitter. If your intent, like Talking Points Memo, is to offer comprehensive coverage of political news and video, you probably wouldn’t rely on Facebook. Or, if you’re really into Indie Rock, and wanted to build a comprehensive video archive, last.fm (as great as it is!) wouldn’t be the right node for you.

Purposeful tools go hand-in-hand with intent. Twitter works, and has succeeded, because it has created (or, through its API, enabled creation) of a bunch of very specific tools for sharing status and links in real-time. Vodpod works as the video node because we’ve built an array of tools that make it easy to collect videos from nearly every video site on the web, and to share your collection anywhere you like (Vodpod.com, your blog, your website, and indeed even Twitter and Facebook).

The aggregate result of all this intent, this usage of Vodpod as a video node so many people, is the most comprehensive and broadest set of curated videos from the Web. Six million videos from nearly 20,000 video sites, organized and curated by our members. A place where you can follow members who share your tastes, your interests, and know you’ll find a steady diet of awesome and relevant videos every day. So the aggregate results make the tool and video node better, more useful — a nice, virtuous cycle.

Tools shape intent, and intent shapes tools. You want a hammer if you’re going to pound a nail, but not if you need to cut a board in half. The risk for general aggregation and sharing services is that they start to feel like the venerable Swiss army knife; handy when you’re camping, but irrelevant for most of us most other times.