Profile: Crackle.com

Online Startup Hopes To Give YouTube Competition

Jul 24, 2007 7:20 pm US/Pacific 

Image

Sue Kwon
Reporting

(CBS 5)
SAUSALITO Sausalito based crackle.com launches with a new
website and a big backer. Josh Felser founded the online video site
once called Grouper.

Sony bought it a year ago for $65-million. It restructured the site, packed it with higher end content and renamed it "Crackle."

"It’s
not for the skateboarder who wants to shoot his friend landing on his
head. That’s more the environment for YouTube, not for us," Felser said.

It’s
clear to giants like Sony and YouTube that online video is not just a
fad. YouTube and MySpace are the most popular video viewing sites.

But, there are dozens more. Crackle hopes to pop with content made by professionals.

"We
are seeking to take the next generation of producer and actor and
expose them to a large audience not just on Crackle but on the internet
and on devices like Sony’s Bravia and cell phones," Felser said.

Felser believes the good stuff will come because unlike YouTube, Crackle pays.

"We’re spending $5 -15,000 an episode," Felser said.

Filmmaker Jen Gilomen says the boom in online video is offering more opportunity for independent producers.

"That’s
what the independent production community is hankering for. They want
to have new outlets for pieces but be recognized for work and be
awarded for it in some way," Gilomen said.

Her documentary about
power production in the United States called "Ghosts of Appalachia"
should be completed in a year. It will likely show on a computer screen
year you.

She is working on it at the Bay Area Video Coalition
facility where an increasing number of students are signing up to learn
high end video production skills. It’s a trend brought on by the
increase in online video venues.

While Crackle’s 12 channels
of shorts, comedy, and animation are clearly not features hacked
together with cell phone video, the key is getting people to notice the
difference.

Felser says, "The bar is being raised. Now the
audience says now we’ve seen video of people jumping off roofs. I want
a higher quality experience."

Crackle.com has ground to cover. It has 25 million unique monthly visitors. YouTube has 150 million.

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