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“It’s not TV. It’s Netflix.”

Rotisserie Chicken: An Original From NetflixWill 2014 be a turning point in the “battle for screen time?” 

Amazon Studios announced its new slate of series orders from their unique, popular vote-driven pilot process last week — and while Netflix and Hulu took a more casual approach to unveiling their latest batch of original content, the user reviews for April Fools release “Rotisserie Chicken” so far are decidedly mixed: “[Two stars] A sophomoric effort. Poor use of thyme. Poorly conceived denouement, with a narrative arc which goes nowhere. Could use more garlic.” But in what’s become tech-giant tradition, this blend of creative marketing and disruptive instinct belies the level of investment in the multi-billion dollar war being waged over one of the 21st century’s most competitive commodities: consumer attention in a fragmented media landscape.

Just three years ago, all the major streaming competitors in what Hulu’s head of content Andy Forssell calls “the battle for screen time” were on the ropes (or in the case of Amazon, hadn’t even entered the ring yet). Netflix’s shift to streaming seemed terminally botched by its “Qwikster” debacle, Hulu was up for sale (and struggling to fetch anywhere near its asking price), and while YouTube was seeing impressive traffic for its original content, monetizing those views was proving difficult as marketers became disillusioned with the value of Pre-Roll ads.

Flash forward to 2014 — Netflix is nominated for 14 Emmys (winning 3) and tops 31 million subscribers (HBO, by comparison, has 29 million), Hulu‘s parent companies (Fox and Disney) have taken down the “For Sale” sign and doubled-down with a $750M investment in the streaming service’s future, and Amazon Prime has been growing so rapidly that new sign-ups had to be capped during peak periods of December 2013 to avoid exceeding their operational capacity. Perhaps more tellingly, YouTube and other online outlets are crashing the Upfronts – a week of presentations by broadcast TV executives to all the major advertising clients — using the industry’s own Nielsen data against it with an aggressive pitch that more 18-34 year olds (49% of the total demo) can be reached through advertising on their online platforms than on the most popular FX (45%), TBS (44%), Comedy Central (41%) or AMC (40%) broadcast packages.

Numbers like these engender a great deal of confidence in the future of streaming, and the larger trends in consumer behavior are unmistakable: streaming is here to stay, and content is still king regardless of platform. For decades, studios and broadcast networks have spent billions on preserving artificial restrictions on consumers — from appointment television to 90-day holdbacks from theatrical release on VOD/DVD/Digital sales — so seeing billions invested on tearing down these barriers and maximizing consumer choices is thrilling, regardless of the outcome.

To Monetize or Not to Monetize… It’s Not Even a Question!

money_fallingA question we’re often asked in the YouTube realm is whether it’s better to block or monetize user-generated content (UGC) in order to optimize an official music video. When UGC is being monetized, it means that a claim has been applied on behalf of a copyright holder who can now see stats and collect revenue on that video, while a block would make that video unviewable. In the vast majority of cases, our answer is “monetize,” and here’s why:

UGC videos help people discover new music. A viewer might see a random cat video, hear your song in the background, and just like that — you’ve got a new fan! If the only option for a viewer is an official video on an artist’s YouTube channel, he is far less likely to stumble upon your awesome track. Consider UGC like free promotion, which can have a positive impact not only on your YouTube business, but on your sales as well.

UGC can be incredibly entertaining and provides viewers a greater variety of videos to watch. We know the official music video is awesome, but viewers will only watch it so many times. UGC can offer a new and refreshing option to hear that same song time and time again.

Let users express their fandom. Users often use the audio of bands and artists they love in their videos. It’s only natural! Encourage them to share their love for you by allowing their videos to remain viewable. It’ll mean both a wider presence and a happy fan — win/win.

UGC and official videos can coexist to result in more revenue than one video alone. In most cases, a UGC video is a supplement to an official video, not a replacement. The likelihood of UGC detracting from your views is generally higher only when there’s an exact replica of your video — and these can always be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Next time you’re weighing the pros and cons of monetizing UGC using your audio, think about that song or artist you discovered while watching a YouTube Fails compilation, or that guilty pleasure proposal video you sent to all of your friends and coworkers on Monday morning.

Welcome, Ari!

February 12, 2014 Orchard News No Comments

 Cohen_AriIntroducing Ari Cohen, Coordinator, Entertainment Acquisitions

Hi everyone. I’m based out of our Los Angeles office and have joined The Orchard as the Entertainment Acquisitions Coordinator in the Video/Film department. I began working here part time shortly after graduating from UCLA.

I lived in Santa Barbara prior to moving to Los Angeles. I’m an avid tennis player and runner. I also write screenplays and go to stand-up comedy shows during my free time. I’m a fan of The Office and Breaking Bad and my favorite movie from 2013 was Gravity.

Looking forward to the year ahead!

YouTubing For Businesses

January 6, 2014 YouTube No Comments

WillItBlendYouTube isn’t just for the entertainment industry and home movie enthusiasts. Businesses are getting creative by harnessing its power to reach customers. Video for businesses can mean a lot more than advertising. Used the right way, YouTube could get a product or service in front of new customers and keep them coming back for more.

Possibly the most entertaining example of this is Blendtec’s YouTube series, Will it Blend?. As the name suggests, episodes test the power of Blendtec’s products by blending various objects. The genius of this series is in their choice of objects to blend. Each time a major device comes to market (for example, a new iPhone), Blendtec is the first to get its hands on it and blend it to bits. Imogen Heap even enlisted the help of Blendtec to blend together meaningful objects tied to the recording and promotion of her new album. This brilliant use of tent-pole programming appeals to what viewers are already searching for and gets the company’s product in front of a huge audience. Even if viewers might not particularly be in the market for a new blender, they’re certainly going to think of Blendtec when they are.

Maybe less entertaining but equally as effective is Williams-Sonoma’s appetizing YouTube channel. The kitchenware company sells a huge variety of top-of-the-line kitchen appliances and gadgets. Using their YouTube channel to showcase featured items has given Williams-Sonoma a great opportunity to show their products in action. Let’s say I’ve stumbled upon a video featuring their new waffle maker. Not only do they show the product, but they also show you how to use it and how to make a delicious food item at the same time. So now that I’m dying for a waffle maker, I’ve got a head start and know just where to buy one.

YouTubing for businesses isn’t only limited to kitchen items. Companies like Troy Lee Designs have come up with creative ways to include the physical space of their store, showing off cool products at the same time. The motocross race shop sells everything from helmets to hardware and has a facility that begs a visit. To show it all off, they decided to have InsiderMX swing by and fly a GoPro strapped to an RC helicopter through the shop. This point-of-view perspective gives viewers a glimpse of what the shop is about and urges them to swing by to see it for themselves.

Thinking out of the box can really give businesses an edge. A creative YouTube channel can help level with potential customers and give them an honest view into what a company is about. Whether it’s a sense of humor with any given product or a hands-on demonstration, incorporating YouTube can help businesses reach a potentially huge audience. Entertaining viewers this way gives them something to remember — without having to beg for a sale.

YouTube Ads Your Way with Fan Finder

November 19, 2013 YouTube No Comments

FanFinderYouTube made big strides this week in its efforts to drive subscribers to channels. With its new Fan Finder, YouTube is empowering creators to expand their audience while helping viewers find new content to enjoy. The tool allows channel owners to create an ad to represent their brand and channel. YouTube will show the video as a TrueView pre-roll ad to viewers who’s viewing behavior indicate they may be interested in that channel. A big win-win for both creators and viewers.

Fan Finder should prove to be a valuable asset for both newly launched channels as well as those looking to reach more fans. By matching channel ads with similar content, YouTube is giving channels an opportunity to reach a larger audience at no cost to them, allowing creators to showcase their brand in a unique way. Remember that these ads are skippable after five seconds, so make sure the video you use will have an impact in that timeframe. Check out YouTube’s best practices for Fan Finder to get some tips. You can also track your efforts by visiting Fan Finder under Channel Settings and clicking the “Analytics” button for your ads. Pay close attention to subscriber growth once your ad goes live — those are your most engaged viewers!

This type of advertising also introduces an interesting dynamic in viewer behavior and engagement. Instead of watching advertising for products and services, viewers will now start to see ads directing them toward more YouTube content. As a viewer, you may be more likely to discover new content and come back for more. For YouTube, this means more viewers using the platform for longer amounts of time. Extending the reach of its channels ultimately means more opportunity to grow viewership network-wide. Fans may start exploring more of the platform as Fan Finder ads guide them from channel to channel.

The most exciting part may just be what types of ads YouTube creators will come up with. Have a cool idea? Try it out on your own channel! Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Head over to
  2. Make sure you’re logged into your channel
  3. Click “Select Your Channel Ad”
  4. You’ll be asked to accept the terms of the program (don’t worry, YouTube won’t take your first-born)
  5. Select any public video from your channel as your ad — it should take about a week to run following YouTube’s reviewal process

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