Blogtv.ca launches

Last night I had the pleasure of going to the launch party for Blogtv.ca – it was held in Kensington Market at little place called Supermarket.

In a nutshell Blogtv.ca is YouTube with live video. Create an account, plug in your webcam and start “broadcasting”. Viewers can login, watch the live broadcasts and participate via chat.

The Event
The launch party itself was a good time – good mix of people, healthy TorCamp turnout and some good conversation. The High Road team always seems to put together fun events and this one was no exception.

The Site
There’s some interesting features like co-hosting – which allows two separate people to broadcast on the same channel. The interface is nice enough and it seems intuitive and easy to use. Ironically enough when I logged in earlier this evening the only person in the “Live Now” section was Peter Dawson, another local TorCamper. It was handy though, as it let us mess around a bit as broadcaster/viewer.

Where’s the Beef?
At the end of the day I can think of a handful of applications where it could be useful but…

blogtv1

Nothing is happening! I think there’s a couple of issues right now that are going to make it really hard to get the traction they need.

1. Talking Heads – The challenge with limiting people to webcams is you’re pretty much stuck with the typical “talking head” framing. Which generally means not very compelling imagery so the speaker/host/presenter has to be pretty compelling.

2. The white-noise tv’s – Nice effect but the problem with it is it SCREAMS “Nothing to see here”. Basically the site is wrapped around one premise and the first thing the homepage does right now is tell the user “we’re not going to deliver on that”.

3. Maintaining interest while momentum builds – When I started this blog I went in knowing that for at least the first month or two, aside from me, my wife and maybe a couple of friends, no one would be reading it. With writing it’s not a big deal, no one’s watching while I write, so it’s not an immediate motivator. With video though, it’s completely different. Sitting at the computer having a conversation of one would be pretty difficult. Imagine getting on the site 2-3 times a week and sitting for 20 minutes talking to yourself/your computer while it confirms to you that no one is, in fact, watching you. Getting people to maintain interest long enough to get to the point of truly having viewers will be a real challenge.

Planting Seeds
I was out at lunch the other day with Will Pate and Mark Kuznicki and the conversation turned to community growth and cultivation. Without going into too much detail Will likened the process of community development to gardening – and I think that sums up the challenge with Blogtv.ca.

In essence, they’ve got a good, fertile garden in what they’ve built – the challenge is nothing has been planted. Judging by the party, swag bag and quality of the site they’ve got some money behind them. If it were my site I’d make sure that I took some of that cash and invested it in nailing down a few well known or emerging video bloggers to ensure that during the peak times across Canada there was always a couple of people live and broadcasting on the system. I’d want them to be good conversation starters, if not a little edgy on any of the political/belief systems out there. Find some people with a traffic halo and try and get them on the site and contributing. Ensure there’s a somewhere for users to end up so they start to interact and even debate. People will start to respond to the seed content, make contacts and the conversations should spill out into the rest of the site.

It’s critical though that anyone brought into the mix to help seed the conversations be authentic. They have to be compelling beyond the format and genuinely believe what they’re trying to share.

For the most part, all the bits are there, it just needs a little bump start.

Disclosure: As with most of these events, there was free booze and some swag given out.

  • Maria

    Hah, I was there, but I didn’t see you. Or if I did, I didn’t say hi cuz I don’t know you.
    But I can tell you something, it looks like fun, but for example me, I don’t think I’d have time to engage on something like this. A 20 minute thing twice a week, it would just be too much time. Maybe I’m too old? I wonder.

  • Ryan

    It’s not like you have to spend 20 min twice a week… but when you consider the notion of trying to build audience it takes some serious effort.

    But yeah, you’re “too much time” comment is what I’m worried about for these guys… great idea but concerned the focus is too narrow.

  • Rohan Jayasekera

    My pre-launch impression of blogtv.ca was that its creators thought they were solving a problem, the lack of live broadcast capability for the masses. I was and am skeptical that this lack constitutes any kind of problem. Sometimes being live is beneficial, when it’s about something happening right now that the audience cares about, e.g. reporting live from the scene of a fire. But that will rarely be the case, so why wouldn’t a viewer just go to YouTube, where not only is there a lot more stuff, but each vid got there only after the creator’s decision that it was good enough to upload.

    I don’t see a lot of value here other than novelty — which wears off quickly.

  • Anonymous

    The advantages to live broadcasts are yet to be seen….

    Imagine being a fan of a particular blo that you listen to regularly. and now add being able to talk to them personally. It’s a whole other thing.

    Live is the real catch here – It’s Live interaction!

  • Ryan

    I don’t disagree that this could be something quite interesting in the future.

    The challenge is getting there. It’s just not that big a need.

    “and now add being able to talk to them personally. It’s a whole other thing.”

    The irony is, we’re conversing now. And I regularly communicate with bloggers who I read and like through comments, email & even Skype. All live :)

    The Canada-only thing will also be a total non-starter. More than 50% of my regular readers are outside of Canada. Hard to engage in a global conversation when the other half isn’t allowed to participate.