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Streaming Media West: Keepin' It Real

Erick Hachenburg had a message for the attendees of his keynote session at Streaming Media West 2007: User-generated content isn’t successful because it’s quality content; it’s successful because it appears authentic.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from a comment made in a panel at the end of the previous day of Streaming Media West, where a television broadcaster’s new media representative said he likes YouTube because it provided a place to put all the stuff that they didn’t want to broadcast, Hachenburg said that user-generated content (UGC) will play an even more extensive role moving forward.

"Fragmentation is an important—and inevitable—trend in the overall consumer video viewing microcosm," said Hachenburg, CEO of MetaCafe, "which means that very few sites are going to be considered ‘must view’ sites. It’s about a dozen sites now, and may rise to a few dozen, but not beyond that. So getting content across many sites is key to both UGC and traditional professional content."

National Geographic president of digital media Betsy Scolnik then took the stage to provide an overview of video as a strategic entertainment content.

"Video’s not the central piece on our website," said Scolnik, "but it is a major cog in the total wheel."

Scolnik said National Geographic decided to move to a media asset management (MAM) system about five years ago and used a lot of off-the-shelf software to create it.

Scolink said the biggest issue was getting all the content on to the system, then cataloging and meta-tagging the content.

"Our television group didn’t want to put their content on the MAM," said Scolnik. "Perhaps they were afraid it would be lost or misused; there were times we’d find the master tapes hidden in a producer’s office after trying to track it down for inclusion."

Once this content was in the MAM, Scolnik said the assumption was that clips from these finished (and aired) documentary videos would be the key to video on the National Geographic website. But they found that excerpts from existing content weren’t going to fly, for several reasons, including the fact that it was content that people had already seen and that they weren’t going to dig hierarchically into the website to find these clips, especially without good search functionality.

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