Hey TV Nets: The Whipclip Revolution is here! Let’s Reward the Legal Approach

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Whipclip won’t be the first entrant in the live TV clipping market, but it is decisively the most important. ABC, CBS, FOX, VH1, A&E Network, Lifetime, Bloomberg, and Turner are on board – but for how many shows? And what about sports?

Whipclip – let a bajillion near-live TV highlights bloom

[JUST AIRED: Live Highlight from SF Giants Spring Training camp] #strongertogether #SFGiants #socialtv

BY NOW we all know that mobile social video is hot.

The numbers are stunning – we’re glued to our phones – we’re captivated by video – and we don’t mind watching pre-roll ads. So imagine how amazing it would be to open an app and have it filled with short highlights and replays of just-aired TV moments. And not just one highlight – but tons of them – created and curated by your existing social network.

That’s the promise and vision of Whipclip, which launches its App today and also promises that “the first time a televised event has been shared in real-time” will be March 30th, during the Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber.

The Whipclip App lets you create, share and discover awesome TV clips in real-time – as the show airs. #SocialTV has arrived!

Well, not exactly. It’s been 4 years since SnappyTV pioneered the social TV clipping concept. (April 7, 2011, to be exact.) But the rights complexities are massive – and CEO Mike Folgner smartly pivoted to the the B2B video tech market before getting acquired by Twitter.

If the DVR enabled us to conveniently time-shift our TV watching, Twitter has reminded us how rewarding it can be to keep up with the real-time TV conversation. Twitter is a meaningful competitor to Whipclip and surely there will be others.

But for now, the others, including an app called ConnecTV/MemeTV have also had to pivot uncomfortably around rights challenges: ConnecTV’s clips are strictly 6 seconds – to mitigate legal risk. The user experience doesn’t work. (To be fair, it’s smart to mitigate legal risk, considering the legal fate of many digital media innovators – shout out to you Aereo! And you too, Yahoo! Loops. In the image below, the SBJ headline is “Leagues, networks have issues with Yahoo’s Loops.”)

Which brings me to my key point: Whipclip won’t be the first entrant in the live TV clipping market, but due to the licensing and business models at stake, it is decisively the most important.

If Whipclip – armed with $20 million and the most powerful lawyers in Hollywood – can’t get sufficient content rights for an awesome App, then no one can.

Thankfully, we can breathe a sigh of relief that there are many official TV Networks on board. That’s awesome, and a testament to the hard work going on at Whipclip and at the networks. By protecting content and going after a fully legal approach, Whipclip is demonstrating the right attitude toward its content partners

But we’ll have to wait-and-see just how full the content catalog gets – and that’ll be key to the product’s ultimate success. When will they get sports? John Oliver? And so on. I didn’t ask the company – because I know the answer: Just as soon as they can.

On the other hand, if the app makers and TV networks together can’t sufficiently balance the need to both license the content flexibly as well as to protect and monetize it – well, shame on the industry. Stuck with no legal alternatives, consumers will use their smartphone cams to capture videos of meaningful TV moments they want to share with their friends and family.

Who records their TV with a smartphone?

The CEO of Whipclip is Richard Rosenblatt, an immensely successful internet entrepreneur that was behind Demand Media and the growth of MySpace before that. Clearly, Richard has his finger on the pulse of digital consumer habits.

In the release he states “The days of awkwardly holding your phone up to the TV to record and share your favorite moments may be coming to an end.”

Surprised that’s a digital habit? You shouldn’t be. TV is impactful – and when humans experience impactful events, we have a natural urge to record and share them.

My firm recently ran a survey on precisely that habit and found a third of DVR owners* had in fact used their smartphone to record a clip off their TV. [*We used a DVR owner audience since it is too difficult to videocam a live TV show without a DVR. Ring Digital llc will publish the detailed stats in the our 2nd edition #SocialTV Index Report at NAB Show. www.ringdigital.tv/socialtv-index ]

As the just-aired TV highlights experience gets better for clippers and viewers, the habit will get more ingrained, and we will find ourselves making, watching and sharing more real-time clips than ever. And tuning into more live TV and live streaming events.

There will be billions of dollars of value realized in this unique, near-live video ad inventory across every possible content genre. Live will be king – news, music, sports, comedy roasts – but drama and documentaries and sit-coms will all work too. Some of the money will accrue to the social networks. Additional value will accrue to the pay TV, broadcast TV, and OTT television models.

And social TV clipping will also spread to the long-tail of social streaming, and local sports. Everyone can be a live video maker – thanks in large part to cloud video platforms that make it cheap and easy to support these workflows. (Sponsored by Wowza Streaming Cloud.)

(The slide below is from Ring Digital llc’s 2014 SocialTV Index report. It attempts to size the SocialTV market.)

Market size for Social TV Clipping – Social Ads, OTT, TVE, and Online Video


That is, if they can get sufficient rights.

On the other hand, licensing out digital rights is a scary, difficult proposition for content owners.

We’ve spent the past decade and a half watching the music business experience a deep, painful decline due to an inescapable fact: it’s much harder to make big money in digital.

After the music industry spent years striking productive and innovative licensing deals with companies large and small, we are now blessed with the incredible luxury of beautiful music everywhere. However, the music industry is still struggling to stem the decline.

Today the TV industry is facing some of its biggest challenges since David Sarnoff first broadcast a live TV signal in 1939. Apple TV, HBO Now, Netflix, Vessel, MLB.com At Bat – those nine words make the point that local stations, national broadcast networks, pay TV networks, and cable, telco & satellite operators are in for a disruptive ride over the next few years.

And in the case of near-live social TV clips, we don’t really even understand the feature set or human behaviors that will define the most compelling experiences. That’s the harsh reality of doing business in digital media. It’s a dynamic, complex & uncertain market. Digital habits can change. Business models can be up-ended. New video software infrastructure is needed.

A new business is born – let’s nurture it.

I have a confession. My firm has a horse in this race – we’ve been building B2B near-live clipping & cloud graphics tools for many years. Along with other B2B vendors in this space, including Grabyo, Anvato, Forscene, and SnapStream, I’ve been advocating for TV networks to grow this new social TV window for monetizing live content.

The first step has been taken – Whipclip is launched. Now let’s get to work and build a compelling, healthy TV clips ecosystem.

To learn more, follow me here:  twitter.com/brianlring

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