There is a stereotype that those who are into the Internet do not get out much. This Monday, about 550 new media creators and aficionados defied that stereotype when they came together for a night of discussion, networking and entertainment at Busby’s East on Wilshire Boulevard.
Tubefilter News’ Hollywood Web Television Meetup connected a wide range of new media creators, producers and fans. The monthly event — capped off by a networking mixer — was organized by Tubefilter News, an Internet television news and industry review website. Co-founded by USC alumnus Brady Brim-deForest, the company works to connect independent web creators and strengthen the network between them.
“The core of our strategy is what we call ‘ecosysteming’ — a year and a half ago, the web television space didn’t really exist as a defined content vertical,” Brim-deForest said. “We saw an opportunity to build out an ecosystem around a core group of content creators. The Streamy Awards, as well as the International Academy of Web Television, have helped to propel high quality series, and those who create them, into the spotlight. The success of one show means greater audience awareness for the space and more attention on web television as a medium.”
This month’s panel, Going LIVE!, was a look into the growing popularity of live web shows and the work that goes into making them. In a relaxed atmosphere, guests mingled before the show, chatting with panelists and each other.
After calling everyone to their seats, Brim-deForest introduced the panel.
“Welcome to the ninth Hollywood Web TV Meet Up,” he said. “This has really become a great tradition of awesome parties with awesome people.”
Brim-deForest then turned the event over to the panel’s moderator, and Tubefilter News Editor in Chief Marc Hustvedt, who then introduced the panelists. The speakers included Hailey Bright (co-host of the video game web series Coin-Op TV Live), Brian Gramo (founder of theStream.tv, which airs more than 10 live shows a week), Tyler Crowley (executive producer of Mahalo Daily, an Internet television company), Bismarck Lepe (founder of Ooyala, a company that designs live video streams) and Drew Baldwin (a co-founder of Tubefilter, and producer of the Streamy Awards).
Hustvedt then introduced the guests from Stickam.com, another live streaming company that was broadcasting the panel live.
“We’ve never done this live before, but that’s why we’re doing it,” Hustvedt said.
Hustvedt got into the questions quickly, with the most direct first: “Why did you decide to go live?”
“There is this great site called Music Plus TV, and they went live. I thought this is cool, we could do something like this with experts in different fields like videogames or movies,” Gramo said. “We started in my apartment doing two to three shows a week, but we grew and soon we had to get a studio.”
“We started to go live to see how people would react,” Crowley said. “The audience really liked it, and the sponsors caught onto that and grew. They found that they can really make money off a live stream, so that’s why we’re doubling down on live shows.”
Hustvedt turned the topic over to the benefits of doing a live show, specifically the interactive element of it.
“On our show we have a guest every week, and that guest can really connect with the chat room,” Bright said. “It’s pretty neat, you could be a kid in a small town, and all of a sudden you can ask your favorite video game designer whatever you want.”
“We did the Streamy Awards live, a lot of people don’t know that,” Baldwin said. “It was pretty insane to try and do that, but we wanted to make it appropriate to the audience, we wanted them to be able to see the event, and we can get an audience globally, so we went with it.”
The conversation then steered toward the business side of live web streams, specifically sponsors.
“Sponsors want live,” Lepe said. “It’s the easiest way to interact with the customers and the audience. Live is here, and it’s only going to grow.”
Baldwin added, “What we offered sponsors with the Streamy Awards was an event. A live stream is an event on its own. Our website had only been up for just over two months, but we had over 40,000 people tune in for the show. If you put the word out to the internet community, it will spread like wildfire.”
“Who here has a DVR?” Gramo asked. “Who here fast forwards through commercials? You can’t do that with a live show. Sponsors can’t ignore an opportunity like that.”
After a few more questions, Hustvedt then turned the discussion over to the chat room, with the first question asking the panelists what the hardest part of producing a live show is.
“The hardest part is the first show,” Gramo said. “There are a lot of crap talkers who live to shoot you down. ‘It’s his first episode? I’m going to take him down!’”
“At least they’re watching,” Baldwin chimed in, earning some laughter from the audience.
Following the panel, the chairs were cleared away and the crowd doubled in size for the mixer.
Topics ranged from the panel to individual web projects. The informal, party-like nature of the event continued, and many of the panelists were casually chatting with guests and fans.
“The evening had a really excellent vibe,” Brim-deForest said during the mixer. “It’s all about the quality of the folks that come out and it always exceeds my hopes. The community makes the event.”