If you don’t know where you’re going it’s very difficult to get there.
The biggest single cause of failure I’ve seen for online TV businesses has down to a lack of vision and planning. Let’s examine these separately.
A vision is a fine thing. I meet hundreds of people every year with great ideas. I even have several a day of my own. The trouble is that very often these are the same ideas. Outside a few very specialist fields, pretty much anything that can be conceived has been conceived, and anything new that’s invented might well be invented in many places at the same time (look at the history of television itself, which was ‘invented’ simultaneously in three different countries). In other words, an original idea is a very rare thing.
So, the first question to ask yourself is ‘do I/we have an even or better chance of making this idea work than the other people who are quite probably working on the same concept ?’
To answer ‘yes’, you need to have one of the following:
- better ideas, or at least a better angle or approach
- better access to financing
- better marketing or audience building ability (or perhaps an existing audience)
- access to commercially viable content
- delineation – something that makes you stand out
When Simon Brydon built Cycling TV he identified that live coverage of European road races would attract a global audience. This was particularly true in the US, where there was practically no TV coverage of this highly popular sport.
Equally, I’ve seen many niche channels fail because they overestimate their appeal to the market and underestimate the cost of building and retaining an audience.
Another mistake I've seen over and again are enthusiasts launching a channel because of their own interest in a subject. Of course, insight and understanding of the market helps, but it can equally be a hindrance since a fan's view might be myopic to the commercial realities of a market: working with someone who has no intrinsic interest can help balance this out (I find that accountants have few outside interests and make excellent sounding boards!).
Secondary markets for primary content and primary markets for secondary content are particularly appealing. For example, catering to expatriate markets, but this is a very easy target for existing broadcasters going online, and then there are huge rights issues to face, so what might initially seem like an obvious idea quickly can become a very difficult business to build online.
Of course, ideas can be about different ways of presenting content - mixing video with Google Maps, for example, to provide a different interface, integrating a video service into existing social networks and providing greater interactivity than is currently possible with linear TV all offer exciting possibilities.
So, your vision needs to encompass what content proposition you’re building, for what market, and you need to be confident that you can deliver a compelling service that can build and retain that audience.
The next step is to plan your service...