Online Video Moves Out of the Bedroom

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Permits for online video production are up, which means the industry is coming into its own.


Last week, Los Angeles announced that “Web-Based TV” on-location film permits were up 63% compared to last year.  While that is an impressive percentage increase, the absolute number was even more striking.  In the second quarter there were 499 permit requests – compared to 381 for TV Sitcoms and 384 for TV pilots.

For an industry that is often thought of as people making videos and posting them from their bedroom, this is a number worth considering for a moment.  It means that online video production is moving into the streets – and getting bigger in the process.

Permits like this are relevant beyond the fact that they mean that someone is spending a day shooting on location.  They suggest a level of production sophistication – a recognition that these permits are necessary and the capacity to obtain them.  More often than not, that level of sophistication also means writers, actors, producers, and crew.

The fact that online video is a real industry will come as no surprise to people paying attention to the billions (that’s billions with a B) of views that these shows are getting.  It also will come as no surprise to the industry professionals who signed this recent letter to Senators Rockefeller and Thune asking them to protect online video from anticompetitive steps taken by incumbent video providers.  But it may come as a surprise to people who still think that online video is a niche filled with hobbyists.

That being said, it is important not to over-interpret these numbers.  The second quarter can be a slow time for sitcoms – in the fourth quarter of last year sitcoms shot 722 permitted days.  But even that number is less than twice the number of web-TV shoots.  And the economic impact of production shoots are not necessarily equal.  Online video crews may getting bigger, but network sitcom crews are bigger still.

Which means that this one number does not show that traditional TV is going to be fully replaced by internet TV tomorrow.  But it does suggest that online video is on the march. 

Original image by Flickr user chekhter.

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