Sony veers away from video sharing

Sony veers away from video sharing

Posted by
Greg Sandoval,
July 15, 2007 9:11 PM PDT 

YouTube’s dominance in video sharing has prompted Sony to take a new approach to the sector.

Grouper, the video-sharing site acquired by Sony
last August for $65 million, announced on Monday that it is dropping
its name and changing its business plan. Grouper from here on out will
be known as Crackle.

"User-generated video is dead to us," declared Josh Felser, Grouper’s
founder who is now Crackle’s president. "We are definitely leaving
video sharing and focusing on emerging talent."

In the past, visitors to Grouper could post videos to the site and
eventually the most popular clips would appear on the front door. Who
says a site has to sit back and wait for entertaining videos? Crackle
intends to collaborate with creators to help develop hits. By funding,
promoting, and syndicating work from talented videographers, Crackle
wants to become the Internet’s version of a movie studio, according to
Felser.

Crackle appears designed to use Sony’s marquee name, bulging coffers
and film-making expertise to lure the Web’s most skilled movie makers.
The thinking is that once the quality of the content rises, so will the
number of viewers, Felser said.

This is not new. Plenty of video sites, such as Revver, Google Video and Metacafe, have dangled offers of cash or a share of advertising revenue. At best, the results have been mixed.

What’s different about Crackle is that site is s offering budding directors a chance at the big leagues.

According to Felser, Crackle will introduce the best movie
makers to Sony Pictures executives, syndicate their work on the
PlayStation Portable, Bravia TV sets and other Sony properties, and
fund some of the production costs for innovative ideas.

"We can offer the pathway to Hollywood and fame," Felser said.

As for what went wrong with Grouper, Felser said that everybody except YouTube has had to rethink the business model for video sharing.

"The same content is on every site," Felser said. "Equally as
important, you can’t monetize it. Advertisers don’t want to be
associated with unpredictable content."

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