Failed Experiment?

Glenn gives us a heads up to what might be the beginning of the end of Pajamas Media.

I wrote about Pajamas Media back when they started. At the time I had grave misgivings, mainly because I couldn’t figure out how there could possibly be enough money coming in from ads on blogs to pay everyone a decent wage. Looks like that was exactly the problem.

Now it would appear that PM is dismantling their blog advertising to focus exclusively on their own television productions. This is something that sounds really iffy to me. And when I say “iffy”, I mean from the standpoint of something that someone would actually want to watch. But I’m hardly an expert on the PJTV content because I only ever watched three episodes of Poliwood before deciding that I could spend my time better elsewhere.

I’m not trying to sound harsh, just assess the situation in a realistic manner. A simple glance at PJTV’s home page reveals a fair amount of content. But the majority of it is by people I’ve never heard of before, and whose opinions I don’t care about. The few that I have come across before in the past, such as Austin Bay, have other places where I can go to find their opinion. Why check PJTV’s home page and wait until, every so often, they have someone I want to hear when I can narrow down the search?

There are a lot of things I like about blogs, but the way that readers can carry on a conversation with the author has got to top the list. It is easy, since you can cut-‘n-paste a passage from the essay on to your comment before stating that the author is brilliant or a schmuck. You can even add a link or two to prove your assertion of brilliance or schmuckitude.

It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to do this with a video even if they would allow comments. Oh, you might be able to transcribe what was said, but the ease of cut-n-paste is gone. You also would have to sit through the entire thing, in real time without being able to skim like you can with the written word, to make sure that there was no hedging or clarification that would invalidate the point you were trying to make. You could be leaving comments on five or six blog posts in the same time you are waiting to speak your mind on one 19 minute gabfest. Who wants to spend their time this way?

Four years ago I said that, although I wished them well, I thought Pajamas Media was doomed to failure. The same thing goes for PJTV. Try as I might, I cannot see how this will be a success.

I doubt it will take four years more to prove if I’m right.

12 thoughts on “Failed Experiment?”

  1. I checked out the PJTV website. I saw a video I wanted to see, but you have to pay. “Pay? What is that?”, the current generation of internet users say.

    $15 per month! Definitely not content I would pay for. I can always read their blogs if I want, of course. This venture will fail.

  2. Basically, I have no use for web video for getting serious content. I have integrated blog-reading into my work habits; I usually review something in the blogosphere every hour or so, but don’t spend more than a few minutes per break. Video is interminable, and it’s hard to go back and check out an interesting point. I’ve taken to thinking, “if it’s important, they’ll post a transcript.” Maybe other people will watch PJTV, but not me. And, basically, I like the people at PJM.

  3. I think there is probably a huge future for Internet-delivered video, but it mostly won’t be *web* video…rather, it will be video delivered to television sets using the Internet as transport, as with the boxes now available to work with Netflix and Amazon. Programming to work in this environment will probably need to be segments of at least 15-30 minutes each, not 5-minute clips.

  4. Regarding PJM and web advertising, TigerHawk made an interesting comment:

    “I am told that web site banner advertising suffers, in a sense, from too much transparency. Media buyers know what they pay “per click through” and per dollar of directly attributable revenue, and therefore tend to value banner advertising according to these concrete metrics. Ironically, that puts internet banner advertising at a great disadvantage to print and broadcast advertising, the value of both of which are much more difficult to measure. Corporate budgeteers can measure a superficially accurate rate of return for internet banner ads but cannot for television, so if the former is too low they kill it before they ax the thing they cannot measure. There is an obvious problem with this thinking — the banner ads get no credit for “building the brand” through impressions, which is in principle one of their great benefits — but nobody ever said that corporate bean-counting cannot drive stupid thinking.”

    A consumer-products CEO once said, “I know half of our advertising expenditure is wasted; problem is, I don’t know which half.”

  5. That is why more and more advertising will migrate into the content itself through product placements. The line between entertainment and advertising will blur into nothing. Infomercials worth watching.

    Information will not have advertising. It will be paid for by those advocating a position. They may even pay for some content, e.g. the amateur caught video. The advocacy of the MSM for The Messiah in the last election was a sign of things to come. More and more the line between news and press releases will blur into nothing.

    Blogging will remain as the antidote to the press release. But the source of information will be the press releases from the interested parties and not pseudo-news from crypto-objective news agencies. All bias all the time. It’s what we’ve really had since forever. We just didn’t know it. I wonder how many troubadours were just disinformation agents for the prince next door. Have larnyx. Will travel.

  6. Burrell Smith used to say that the price of goods as they become commodities should eventually approach marginal cost plus profit and that someday all software would sell for $0.99. We’re getting close to that, certainly for music. Information, at least political information, has a very low marginal cost. Likewise it produces very few eyeballs for advertisers because it has very low marginal value for the typical consumer.

  7. Personally, I can’t stand web video unless the information presented is expressly visual such as an how-to or showing a captured event. I read about twice as fast as people talk (and even more so once all the dead space of normal conversation is added in) so watching video is a real time waster. Also, you can’t really stop a video, come back to it later and pickup the thread as you can with text. Neither can you link to specific portions in context nor can you use it as a reference.

    I don’t think I’ve watched more than one or two PM videos since they started and I’m not sure I watched them all the way through.

  8. Totally agree with Rummel for all the reasons he spotlighted. My concern is the Darwinian introduction of blog Andromeda Strain-like newspaper killers like Craig’s List which will result in the drying up of what hard news does exist. What then will half the political opinion bloggers on the interwebs have to opine about?

    And if you think the MSM is slanted to the left now (which it obviously is) it’s going to get far worse as their ad revenue shrinks and they concentrate on their base. The editors of Time and Newsweek have just publicly and forthrightedly admitted this, and so has by inference MSNBC–more or less. And while one part of me cheers the demise of “the enemy.” in some ways the old enemy was more of a friend than the newly modified “enemy.” What I am afraid we will be left with is an MSM that provides ONLY (statistically speaking) opinion/propaganda and yet still dominate the national conversation. In fact, this will make it even easier to hide reality from the public, as only healthy newspapers, broadcast stations could/can afford the legwork to produce basic “news,” never mind how they later tried to spin it. Now, if there is no original “news”/facts being ferreted out
    on a daily basis, there is concomitantly no need to “spin” against reality. One simply creates one’s own reality. And with no facts, there is no reality to balance against the “all opinion, all the time” MSM megaphone–certainly the blogosphere lacks the financial resources to provide any consistent, across the board, effort at developing “hard” news.

    So, in light of the above, IMO we are headed into a new, darker paradigm–a “dark age” if you will–in which the MSM will remain dominate, in a media universe almost universally devoid of “facts” and with the political blogosphere dominated by a Soros-backed left–leaving only a highly vulnerable talk radio–which, even if it survives Congressional/Administration efforts to kill it off, will still suffer from the same dearth of hard news. And if driven exclusively onto satellite radio “talk” radio will not only suffer a vast diminution of it’s audience, but still be subject to the same threats of regulation it does now from a power hungry leftist dominated Congress.

    I ain’t wearin’ “shades” ’cause the future’s so bright.

  9. I don’t watch PJTV either, and for the reasons states above. Text is possessable, indexable, interruptible in ways video isn’t. Over my lifetime, however, print’s economic and social position has been a one-way ride down. Audio, video, gaming all triumph at the expense of print.

    How money will be made on the internet isn’t clear. Experiments will produce both successes and failures. For now, the ad network is a failure. Perhaps the “tv” network will be a failure, too. How the people of the future will prefer to participate in distant (or online) social relations has yet to be made clear.

    At present it seems as if the only viable means for financial security is royalist or mendicant: either someone wealthy must fund sites from charity or partisanship or someone poor must beg for money. Producing content for sale doesn’t seem to work well on the internet. This will be a bleak future, in my opinion.


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