The Video Way
None of these video distribution methods— videoconferencing, video over IP, streaming, or disc—is really all that new. But, the facility and proliferation of each is. Instead of being early technology looking for an application, a wide range of business, institutions, and governmental organizations are finding ways for video to help save money and increase efficiency. And, while leveraging video still requires careful planning, most of that planning can now be done without a dedicated team of technology experts.
Ultimately, what's new is that technology has passed the point of experimentation and is now working to help improve business communications and to help content take an evolutionary step from static to active. And increas- ingly, it can even be done from a simple desktop computer.
Sidebar: The Pleasure of Fulfillment
When it comes to sending physical media to content customers, either videotapes or DVD discs, the old way was to contract a duplication run at one's best guess as to how many units can be sold, then work with a fulfillment house to fill orders. For smaller organizations, that may mean answering phones directly and licking stamps on the weekends. A new company, CustomFlix, offers a new way that gets content owners up, selling, and distributing with very little capital outlay or effort. CustomFlix has built a somewhat automated Web-based business that attempts to take the hassle and guesswork out of fulfillment.
CustomFlix is no Web portal or video enthusiast's Web community and, excepting a few spotlight success stories, doesn't even sell titles at the customflix.com site. Instead, content owners send a single master to CustomFlix and pay just less than $50 to buy into a duplication and fulfillment service for a year (only another $9.95/yr after that). As part of that fee, CustomFlix generates a custom shopping cart and credit card-accepting Web page using graphics and text the content owner uploads into a CustomFlix template. The resulting custom URL can be linked to directly from another private, non-CustomFlix homepage. Potential buyers see no sign of CustomFlix other than a small "powered by" credit at the bottom of the page. Users set prices and CustomFlix takes a flat fee ($9.95/disc) for duplica-tion and fulfillment, the content owner gets a check for the balance of the sale.
CustomFlix doesn't do any advertising—how could they with a customer base that runs the gamut from television stations to wedding videographers to aspiring filmmakers—but it does offer a real solution to the distribution problem that will allow content producers to focus on producing quality content.
Companies Mentioned in This Article
CNBC Dow Jones www.cnbcdowjones.com
FOX Sports www.foxsports.com
Major League Baseball www.mlb.com
Polycom Worldwide www.polycom.com
Universe Productions www.universedvd.com
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission www.cpsc.gov/mpeg.html
VBrick Systems, Inc. www.vbrick.com
Wall Street Journal www.wallstreetjournal.com