On 19th July, 100 or so interested parties from broadcasters, TV production companies, web firms, newspapers and advertising agencies travelled to UGTV '06 from as far as Germany and Spain to meet, chat, eat, drink and discuss. Some highlights from the speeches:
Gavin Newman, Deputy Head of Interactive, Trouble TV
Gavin talked about Trouble Homegrown.
Trouble Homegrown is a website that gathers and makes available for view user-generated video clips. It is part of Trouble TV which is a British satellite/cable channel aimed at 15/24 year olds.
Trouble is one of four channels owned by Flextech, which is itself owned by Telewest.
Gavin was charged with making Trouble first-to-market in the UGTV field.
The thinking behind the website was to give viewers/users as broad a brief as possible and see what kind of video they came up with.
So far footage uploaded to the Trouble Homegrown website has been used in continuity slots on the TV channel, but soon there will be a half-hour programme every week showcasing the best of the submitted clips.
Also the website is being used to select contestants for "Bump & Grind", a talent show on Trouble TV.
He said making the website "was not easy". It could not just be bought off-the-shelf [...at that time, he hinted that if he was starting the project now he would use BloomBox - Ed] and so had to be made bespoke.
Another point he made was that the technical quality of clips has not been much of a problem - the clips on TV "look great". In fact, that they are a little low-fi and not glossy works well.
All uploaded video is screened - in fact watched all the way through twice - by outsourced moderators Tempero - before being put up on the website.
At present there are 5000 clips on the site with another 200 being added every day.
Matthew Kershaw, Head of Interactive, MTV Networks UK & Ireland
Matthew Kershaw (standing in for Angel Gambino) said MTV, with its upcoming major user-generated initiative, is basically 3 months behind Trouble TV.
MTV aims at the same demographic as Trouble and so he was heartened by the apparent success of Trouble Homegrown.
MTV has been a pioneer of viewer-interactivity, via texting and message boards (for example, one show has a presenter who reads out a lot of message board content).
Up to now MTV has had websites about channels (and it also has MTV Overdrive, a website which is a channel) but having a channel about a website is completely new.
He reckons the key is to be a facilitator - a crucial part of the success of MySpace is that it hasn't tried to dictate what its users do.
Also, Matthew related hearing a 14-year-old talk about how a video-game triumph seemed meaningless because there was no one watching him do it. "Kids don't want to do anything without being watched".
He talked about how we are now seeing a 'long-tail for celebrities' or 'niche celebrities'. There has been a proliferation in the number of celebrities in the last five years and perhaps user-generated content can be expected to accelerate this trend.
Nevertheless though its great to be famous in an underground community, people would much prefer to be famous on TV. That's still seen as real fame. In the same way even though the Arctic Monkeys had a high profile on MySpace, they still wanted a mainstream record deal. Getting your footage onto a channel is like getting into the VIP room of a club.
Matthew talked about the legal problem he sees UGTV as having. He said ripped-off content is not such a big deal for websites, which can just take the offending clip down when notified, but it is a big deal for broadcasters. Once such a clip has been shown on a TV channel, the rights' holders will be owed possibly a lot of money. Equally, he said the RIAA is "on the warpath" right now about publishing rights violations in all the user-generated videos that involve lip-synching.
He said UGTV is not just a fad. He brought up the example of talk radio, which has stayed with us despite all the competing forms of media. He said ultimately being able to create your own content taps into a fundamental human need, the need to communicate.
Tim Morgan, Commercial Director, Mint Digital
Mint's very own Tim Morgan explained how producers and advertisers can easily solve the technical side of any project involving user-generated footage by using BloomBox. I'll limit what I write about this speech for fear of casting doubt on the objectivity of this blog, but suffice it to say that it was pithy, uproariously funny and extraordinarily well-received.
A big thanks to Dug Falby from Donkey on the Edge. The three smaller photos are taken from his UGTV '06 Flickr photoset.