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Influx interview- jeff macarthur-commandN

December 15, 2005

commandN is a new type of television network, one that’s based around vidcasting and built on typepad software. The network is getting rave reviews and has around 50,000 viewers for each of its shows. The network focuses on technology and brings to life tech stories in an interesting and compelling way. Influx Insights got a chance to ask Jeff MacArthur, head of Business Development at commandN a few questions.

Here is the interview:

1.What’s the production cost for each show?

Our production costs are principally incurred in relation to the amount of hours we all spend on commandN. Without considering all the business stuff I do for the show, I would say that we spend about 40 man hours total each week to get an episode out. The value of those man hours is anyone’s guess, as we sure ain’t getting’ paid for ‘em! :-)

2.Do you believe your format is the future of television and if so, why?

commandN is dedicated to producing television-quality content with ever-increasing production values. We do believe that vidcasting will impact the television industry, although we hope this isn’t accomplished solely by replicating TV content. Television (for the most part) has the selling of advertising as a principal goal. This tends to put a lot of focus on production quality and doesn’t always guarantee the best content. Vidcasting has it the other way around: content must be king while production values are secondary. We believe that, as vidcasting becomes more popular, the best shows will be able to compete with television while also maintaining a very grass-roots connection to the online community something that is not as embedded in conventional television.

3.How has your viewership grown over the past 6 months?

Our viewership has grown very quickly since we launched in June 2005. Our downloads for October and November have exceeded 5 TB (more than 15 times what it was in June) and we now have an average of roughly 50,000 viewers per episode.

4.Who is your typical viewer?

Because we have received emails from all over the world, from kids to grandmothers and everything in between, it isn’t easy to describe our “typical” viewer. However, I would estimate that our most common type of viewer would be a 20-35 year old North American male, although we have gotten a great deal of response from female viewers as well.

5.How are you planning to evolve your content?

commandN has been constantly evolving its content since the beginning, with the most significant change happening at Episode 18 with the launch of our new graphics and music package. We have moved towards a more segment-ized production (as outlined on our website) and this is working very well for us. We are planning more “on the road” segments in the future, as well as delving into some specialized topic areas in a little more depth.

6.What advice do you have for anyone else thinking of setting up a C21st television network?

I think the one thing that we really hold on to from television is the expectation of new content at specific intervals, so I think a big priority has to be to release your production on a regular schedule (whether that be weekly, monthly, quarterly, or whatever). Another piece of advice would be to interact/pay attention to your audience, as an online production gives us unprecedented ability to do that. Finally, make sure you actually like what you’re doing/covering – there is a great deal of (unpaid!) work in producing a well-crafted vidcast, and both you and the audience will enjoy it a lot more if it’s something you’re truly interested in.

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