Nov , 2009 | Content Decoded
By Jinal Shah
I came across Fora.tv a few weeks ago and when I looked it up, I was pleasantly surprised to see a familiar name on the team. Blaise Zerega and I connected on Linked in a few years ago when we were both at Conde Nast. Blaise has a particularly interesting background and has created a niche for himself launching magazines and content properties. Prior to joining Fora.tv as the CEO, Blaise led the technology coverage at Conde Nast’s Portfolio magazine. He was kind enough to chat with me for a few minutes on the phone yesterday and I want to share some of the interesting themes that popped up in our conversation.
If you haven’t checked out Fora.tv, do it now. Fora.tv is building the world’s largest content library of unmediated video from live events, lectures, debates, and conferences going on all the time at world’s top universities, think tanks and conferences. As Blaise said, “Everyday all around the world, great ideas are being discussed in a university classroom or at a conference. There is a strong opportunity for this long-form content that people are interested in, but don’t have access to. ” And Fora makes this aspirational content accessible to everyone.
Fora’s business model is fairly straightforward right now with three revenue steams: 1) Advertising and Sponsorships 2) Production (live streaming conferences etc0 3) Premium Partnerships. With Premium partnerships Fora helps its partners unlock the value of their content and upsell it to more audiences. Because Fora attracts a smart, affluent and passionate audience and it offers partner’s content in safe environment. Additionally, fora’s infrastructure allows the partner content to travel widely and freely on the web. They just started generating revenues this year so I’m curious to where they end up a few years from now.
I want to highlight the two themes that emerged from my conversation with Blaise. Tell me what you think.
1) The You Channel: “In the future, there won’t be millions of channels,” says Blaise, “there will be one channel and it’ll be yours.” Blaise referred to this notion of “serendipitous discovery” that will dominate our experience with content on the web. Fora unlocks its content for youtube, hulu, boxee, mobile and even facebook – allowing users to consume partner content when they want, and how they want it.
2) Need for high quality content: One of the wagers the Fora team is making on the future of content is that users will demand high-quality content. “People right now are accepting low production value,” Blaise mentioned. But as the premium space expands, the online video experience will need to be as good as broadcast. That’s why, all the content we produce at FORA is now in High Definition.
3) Print and Online are different medium, but still media: One of my questions to Blaise was whether his experience in print media was helping him with his new job as the CEO / Editor of an online content company and his answer didn’t surprise me at all. He summed it up, “Regardless of the media, you are still trying to compete for attention.” As an example, he shared how Fora.tv only started using headlines for the videos in Nov 08 (the company was founded in 05!). As a print journalist, crafting intriguing, provocative headlines is a must-have skill and Blaise knew it was teh same for video. Once Fora started using headlines for their content, the results were immediate and positive. (increase in consumption, engagement, shareing etc)
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