Last week I attended the Academy Screening for the nominees of the 2010 Streamy Awards. The event was a bi-coastal event for the members of the IAWTV (which I am now happily a part of) and not only showed the clips of the nominees in a group setting, but also offered an amazing interview with Rob Barnett, the CEO of MyDamnChannel. Jamison Tilsner, one of the founders of the IAWTV and now COO of Tubefilter, interviewed Mr. Barnett about starting the web channel, the shows on it, the new world of “branded entertainment” and monetizing web content.

Mr. Bartnett explained his reasons for starting MyDamnChannel from a very interesting point of view. Barnett, who was once the production executive for VH1 and MTV expressed his sentiments about making the channel extend from the base of corporate frustration. (I can relate, I left Viacom for teaching several years ago.) Barnett wanted to create an entity that

takes the layer of bullshit out of the system and brings the idea of making a product down to conversation that could be launched five minutes later.

This idea was shocking for content producers in the early days of web television. While something this bold seemed shocking to a corporate elite, on the independent side, content creators of early web television like “We Need Girlfriends” or “Dorm Life” did not know about the “bullshit layer” required in making television.

In the story of “We Need Girlfriends,” Steve Tsapelas entered that “bullshit layer” when WNG was picked up for development by CBS. The show has been in process of being “up-converted” to television broadcast for several years now. The process is what Barnett would call “being ‘noted’ to death.” In the world of web television that Barnett helped create, the notes take place after the project airs, not long before it.

Jamison asked Mr. Barnett about some aspects of web based television and its differences to traditional television. His answers support many of the thoughts that I have already spoken about. Barnett explained that web content is consumed in the way a pop song would be: “people seem to like stuff in the under 5 minute zone.” On top of that, Barnett explains, MyDamnChannel and other web television channels

have to be careful not to lose that concept of ‘cool’ that MTV had years ago. If you make the product [web show] for you, you keep that concept of ‘cool’.

When Jamison asked Barnett about the possibility of web shows being on the television, here’s what Barnett had to say about the future of the new medium that I completely agree with:

We are 18-24 months from the web being on flat screen TVs in our home – But – If it ends up on TV, it will go through months of meetings. All [web television] needs is one [show] to make it and you’ll see a lot more following it.

You can see my small rant on that same opinion here.

From the first time I met Jamison Tilsner I learned of his interest in monetizing web content. Barnett is accustomed to the aspect of money making web projects. For one thing, MyDamnChannel hosts a show called “Easy to Assemble” starring Illeana Douglas and a slew of other celebrities like Justine Bateman, Tom Arnold, Tim Meadows among many. The show is supported by – and produced in – IKEA. This type of web based entertainment is coined as “branded entertainment” and is sponsored by companies interested in web content, entertainment and expansion of brand awareness with a new audience.

Corporations are afraid that the web community is too smart and cynical to buy into the exploitations of the independent content creator. But now, ad agencies are creating divisions of branded entertainment. On the web, the viewership is EXACTLY based on the people who click on [the show].

Barnett’s MyDamnChannel hosts a lot of new web based content and branded entertainment. This idea is not new, BMW films attempted this years ago with an artistic base that was not really understood in the late 90s/early 00s. Today, MyDamnChannel hosts independent shows like “Wainy Days”, “You Suck at Photoshop” and “Harry Shearer” and branded entertainment like “Easy to Assemble” and “Back on Topps.”

After the interview we watched the Streamy Nominations and I later got up and thanked Mr. Barnett for his support of web television and the excellent interview. As more creatives realize that content can be made without the “bullshit layer” and more for the audience who wants to see it, the stronger the story will be. Eventually, there will be a show that will create the design for the shows that will work on all screens together and share creativity and stories and possibly even be profitable.

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