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Readers: How interested in video are they, really?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by WriteThinking, May 21, 2008.

  1. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    This is a subject about which I've been wondering for some time.

    We encourage each other, and younger journalists coming into the business, to learn to record, upload, edit and splice video and video sound bites, and to get comfortable being on camera ourselves for video interviews and reports on newspapers' web sites.

    But, really, how much do readers or web surfers click on and use them? I know I have only really checked out and spent much time on videos on newspaper web sites (or anywhere else) very few times.

    Usually, I'm either just not that interested in whatever has been taped, or else, the videos are of a poor quality, anyway. They strike me almost like pop-up ads on the page, and most of the time, I just avoid them.

    I'll admit I just like and am accustomed to newspaper/media offerings in a more traditional format. But also, there's a sense that, if I wanted to watch TV, I'd watch TV, and so far, I just don't do it very often on the computer.

    So, considering the push that newspapers and their sites are making to use and promote videos and video training among their staffs, I'm wondering how much any of you have a sense of, and a real interest in, the ones made and run on your sites?

    How popular, really, do they seem to be with readers? Does anyone have/know any good numbers, facts or anecdotes to back that up videos' usage/popularity, or a lack it, particularly in comparison to strict story/page reading on web sites?

    Do you see online videotaping someday being the thing newspapers concentrate on, at the expense of web reading stories, in a transition similar to what is happening now with the focus on web-read articles over newspaper-printed ones?

    Or, is this just something else we're kind of reaching for, hoping it'll really catch on, in our rush to keep up with technology and innovation, and we're not really totally sure what to do with it?
  2. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    Re: How often do you look at video online?

    Maybe if a friend sends me a youtube link — on average, that happens once a day.

    Maybe if something catches my fancy when I log out of yahoo! mail — on average, that's once a week.

    I have watched one video on my own paper's website in my more-than-a-year here. I watched it to laugh at how bad it was.

    I have watched one video on my hometown newspaper's website since, well, forever. It was about two months ago. It was something that caught my fancy.

    I have occasionally watched clips of the Colbert Report on Comedy Central's website.

    As for news sites/videos, I cannot think of one other video I've watched anywhere, at any time on the web.
  3. Lieslntx

    Lieslntx Active Member

    Personally, I very rarely, if ever, click on a video. If I follow a link that has video, it had better have some copy to go with it for me to read. If there is nothing but a video, I hit my back button immediately.
  4. deskslave

    deskslave Active Member

    The videos suck, the players themselves suck. And yet we continue to push them, because it's better to do more things in a mediocre fashion than to do a few things well.
  5. SockPuppet

    SockPuppet Active Member

    I think they should be used rarely. For instance, the story about the kid in Pa. who had cancer but got a chance to bat and got a hit. There was video of his interview that allowed me to actually SEE him talking.

    However, for the most part, video on newspaper web sites:
    * Represents editors saying "Wow, you can put video up on our web site? Cool. Let's try it."
    * Represents yet another desperate throw stuff against the wall attempt to attract web hits.
    * Means that newspapers are trying to imitate/compete with television. Yeah, that makes sense.
    * Adds to the "Do more with less" mantra; videos of a reporter talking is boring and worthless. Actually editing a "piece" takes a helluva lot of work, time and expertise. Who has 3-4 hours to edit, add other video, sound, graphics, for a 2-3 minute video?
  6. captzulu

    captzulu Member

    Some excerpts from a Pew research project last year about online video:

    -- Young adults (those ages 18-29) are among the most voracious video viewers. Three in four young adult internet users (76%) report online consumption of video, compared with 57% of online adults ages 30-49.

    -- News outlets were among the first big investors in the online video realm and their early mover advantage shows. News content captures the attention of users across all generations, and is the most popular genre with every age group except for those ages 18-29. Overall, 37% of adult internet users say they watch news videos, followed closely by comedy or humorous videos at 31%. For young adults, comedy is a bigger draw, with 56% watching humorous videos, compared with 43% of internet users ages 18-29 who say they watch news videos.

    -- Overall, 62% of online video viewers say that their favorite videos are those that are “professionally produced,” while 19% of online video viewers express a preference for content “produced by amateurs.” Another 11% say they enjoy both professionally produced video and amateur online video equally.

    -- Overall, 27% of online video consumers say they watch or download video from YouTube, and of those who watch or download videos from more than one location, 29% say YouTube is the place where they view online video most often. Young adults are almost twice as likely to point to YouTube as a source for online video; 49% of video viewers ages 18-29 say they watch YouTube videos. MySpace garners a much smaller slice of the young adult audience (15% of viewers), but one that is still considerably larger than the segment who use cable and network TV sites (7%) or news websites (6%) as sources for video.

    From a quick read of the report, it seems to paint a picture that there's a big appetite for news video online, but much of the audience aren't going to newspaper web sites for those videos. What that seems to say to me is that there is definitely potential for audience in online news video, but newspapers need to figure out how to position themselves as one of the first places people go to for such content.

    Here's the PDF of the report, if you want to read it for yourself:
  7. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    Deskslave: Winner, winner, chicken dinner. My shop thinks it's more advantageous to slice and dice our dedication to the written word and make some 50-year-old reporter who has never held a camera much less a VIDEO camera produce videos — which ultimately suck. And so does his copy because he spent six hours producing a shitty two-minute video WITH NO ADS by the way.

    Capt: Thanks for the link and post. Very interesting. Especially "the prefer professionally produced" video, which refers back to what Deskslave and I said.
  8. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    I'm a dinosaur, so it probably doesn't matter, but . . .

    whenever I see a headline for a story on Yahoo or somewhere else that interests me, I am disappointed when the "story" is a video.

    I want to read it, not see it.
  9. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    That's hilarious. I'm the same. Oh that looks, err, wait, looked interesting. Forget it. Back to surfing.

    I'm 32, does that constitute "dinosaur" status?
  10. Pilot

    Pilot Well-Known Member

    I'm 26 and I hate watching videos on the internet. My computer isn't too hot and it's fairly full of bugs at this point, but it's probably better than that of the average American. On mine, watching video means waiting a minute or two for the thing to load, waiting a minute through a commercial, then watching two minutes of shitty, choppy video that constantly has to stop and load. Meanwhile, it's sucking enough resources on my computer, I can't do much else in the meantime.

    You can't skip ahead to subheads you like on a video. They don't put the most important parts up top. You're stuck getting the information exactly as they see fit. You're stuck watching the whole thing if you actually want to figure out what the deal is.

    I'm sure in a few years computers and the net will be fast enough to handle it all seamlessly. Not yet, though. I'm sure the same people that don't see any reason to open a hard copy of a newspaper don't see any reason to read what they can watch though. That's sad for about 20 reasons.
  11. captzulu

    captzulu Member

    From the sound of things, I don't think your computer is better than the average American's. One of my computers is about 4 years old, and when watching most videos on YouTube or CNN or similar places, I never have to wait more than 10-20 seconds for the video to load, and it rarely stops to load during playback. That's the whole point of streaming video: You don't have to wait till the whole video is downloaded. And if playing a streaming video is sucking up so much of your resources that you can't do anything else, then your machine is definitely not up to par.
  12. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the responses so far, everyone, especially to captzulu for that link and summarization that he posted.

    This is exactly what I'd like to get a sense of, and any firm data on, just for kind of an informal (but as formal as we can make it) analysis of the issue.

    I'd love to hear from any posters for whom video is the majority of their job now, and any posters who may be their papers' web sports managers/editors.

    Do you like and enjoy the work at all? Is it really worthwhile for papers to be investing (time and money) in and doing it, and do the numbers and your sense of things back that up?

    This is something that, for the good, or betterment, of the industry, all editors, managers and publishers should be interested in and ought to get pinned down -- in both as narrowed (to your paper) and as broad (business-wide) a way as possible, in my opinion.

    Of course, as captzulu's information points out, really accurate answers to these questions might be hard to come by if we're not getting the young crowd to check in. But that in itself is telling, as far as where we should maybe, or maybe not, be focusing our efforts and resources.
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