Duncan Riley’s “Challenge to Network Television” Revisited

Posted on March 24, 2008
Filed Under Web 2.0 Kool Aid |

On June 30, 2007 one of the most addicted kool aid drinkers, Duncan Riley, proclaimed that the seeds of a revolution had been sown and that the “the missing link in Web 2.0’s challenge to network television” had been discovered. What was afoot? According to Duncan, live online video streaming.

So it was with interest that I read Erick Schonfeld’s post “celebrating” the one-year anniversary of Justin.tv, one of Web 2.0’s most useless startups. Erick’s post reveals that in February, less than 300,000 unique visitors wasted time on Justin.tv if comScore’s numbers are to be believed.

The less-than-stellar numbers may not even reflect the true failure of Justin.tv to resonate with mainstream consumers as it appears that a considerable number of Justin.tv’s visitors and one commenter claims that 70% of the traffic is originating from the Mideast and South America.

But the news gets even worse for Duncan’s revolution: Justin.tv is not alone. None of the other “major” live video streaming services seem to be mounting a challenge to network television. Only one of the five players covered in Schonfeld’s comScore data report attracted more than 500,000 unique visitors last month. And Ustream.tv, which seems to be a favorite amongst Web 2.0 kool aid sippers, looks to have pulled in a paltry ~100,000 uniques.

All told, comScore’s numbers indicate that the “the missing link in Web 2.0’s challenge to network television” was roughly 1.5 million “viewers” strong in February.

To put that in perspective, consider that American Idol pulled in more than 28 million viewers for its February 26 episode alone. If American Idol is an unfair comparison, one need only consider that web-to-television experiment , which was pulled by NBC after its disappointing debut, pulled in 3.86 million viewers. A paltry showing for network television but still well over double the number of unique viewers attracted by Duncan Riley’s network television killers.

Obviously, Duncan would probably retort that the game is still young and that comScore is inaccurate. Perhaps, but it should be blatantly clear to anyone with an iota of common sense that Web 2.0 has a long way to go before it challenges network television no matter how you measure things.

Excluding the illegal content which is apparently infecting Justin.tv, live online video services serve as some of the best examples that the Old Media-Web 2.0 battle is still a fight between men and boys. Why? Because without the same level of stolen content which has been a major contributor to the success of traditional Web 2.0 video sharing services like YouTube, live online video services like Justin.tv and Ustream.tv better allow us to put the appeal of user-generated content to the test.

Right now, it’s flunking that test along with Web 2.0 as a whole.

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8 Responses to “Duncan Riley’s “Challenge to Network Television” Revisited”

  1. antje wilsch on March 25th, 2008 12:55 pm

    well you know, it’s one step in the proces. Going to be a lot of carnage along the way.

    What I want is pretty simple:
    - watch my videos/ movies on my big screen HD TV
    - rent/ get my movies (no downloading, I want them instantly or at least super fast!) and watch them when I want to
    - able to download ALL espisodes of any TV show available for me to watch when I want to
    - record and watch my TV shows whenever I want to
    - manage my movies, TV shows etc. from my computer or my TV, whenever I want (synched)
    - no returns / expirations
    - never step foot in a smelly, loud movie theatre again
    - no commercials
    - reasonable fees for this

    I’m not going to sit in front of my computer and watch movies or TV shows.

    So while many of the individual attempts are failures and lots of money will be wasted along the way, might just be part of the evolutionary steps to get there.

  2. Drama 2.0 on March 25th, 2008 1:17 pm

    Antje: the key is that you want TV shows and movies, not “eventstreams” featuring Justin Kan and Robert Scoble.

  3. antje wilsch on March 25th, 2008 2:19 pm

    well maybe I would watch those, so add to my list to be able to watch streams on my computer or my TV if I so chose. I’d listen to Walt Mossberg or a handful of others (i’d listen to yours, but you’d have to show your face so I know that isn’t going to happen)/// :)

  4. Drama 2.0 on March 25th, 2008 2:32 pm

    The Drama 2.0 Show Uncensored looks something like:

  5. antje wilsch on March 25th, 2008 7:05 pm

    not sure whether to laugh or cry!!!

  6. Drama 2.0 on March 26th, 2008 1:07 am

    There’s nothing wrong with doing both. :)

  7. Paul on March 29th, 2008 11:12 am

    Interesting in looking at the stats for the video sites that none mention REVENUES, CASH FLOWS, etc.

    Without going to the effort of actually checking current advertising rates, even assuming the unrealistically high rate of $1.00 CPM, at 20M pvs/month Justin is still bringing in only @$20k/month. Likely not enough to even cover hosting. Presumably they are looking at bringing in more high-value video advertising but that will hamper their user growth, so we can assume there will not be any material video ads in the near term.

    So what’s the exit for the VCs and founders? Will never be significantly profitable from organic growth, and the only reason a strategic acquirer will pay a premium multiple is if Justin is a destination brand which can be leveraged into something more than the current site value prop. So, can someone explain to me the expected endgame for the site founders and investors?

    No player hating towards them and I wish them success - but I’ve been through the (powerpoint) rise and (real world) fall of a 2.0 startup, so I continue to follow it with interest and a skeptical eye.


  8. Duncan Riley’s “Fully Transactional Web 2.0 Banners” Revisited : The Drama 2.0 Show on April 10th, 2008 11:08 pm

    […] a shame. Duncan’s revolutions never seem to come to fruition. He is like the Web 2.0 version of Paul Revere. Unfortunately, Joseph Warren never seems to show […]

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Drama 2.0 spikes the Web 2.0 kool aid by providing critical analyses of Web 2.0, its people, its startups and its impact on the world of media. Other topics are explored when Drama 2.0 has been drinking too much 1975 Dom Perignon. Read more about the Internet's version of Keyser Söze here.