Internet surf bums and others well travelled in cyberspace read the title above and muttered, “Why’s he writing about this? This isn’t new.”
Most of the rest of you, especially those in Canadian broadcasting anxious to expand online, went, “Who?”
First, who is Philip DeFranco – and then what makes him important this week.
Philip DeFranco lives in the showbiz hotbed of Atlanta, Georgia. In 2006, as an adjunct to his final exams at East Carolina University, he created a video blog entitled “sxephil” and posted it on Youtube. Less than 48 hours later, it had accrued 450,000 hits.
Phil then began posting three or four times a week. So many people began searching for his content that he became one of Youtube’s first paid “partners”; the guys the site shares ad revenue with because they bring in so much traffic.
By 2008 he had been voted Wired Magazine’s “Sexiest Geek” and created a web of online diversions inspired by his vid-blogs, which he claims now earn him $250,000 per year.
Meanwhile, almost 4 years after the first one, those Monday to Thursday video posts continue to attract a daily audience of over 1.2 Million viewers.
What does Phil do on his show?
Mostly he spends 4 minutes talking about whatever pops into his head. What’s in the News. Politics. Showbiz. Life in general.
He also asks a “Question of the Day”. These inspire hundreds of video responses which also get posted on Youtube while driving other discussions on other blogs, chat forums, social networks, facebook, twitter, etc, etc, etc.
In other words, one guy, working initially from a dorm room and now from a bedroom in his home, with technology no more complex than a webcam and video editing program, is engaging an audience with content Canadian funding bureaucracies are marshalling millions of dollars to study and experiment in reaching on behalf of our television networks.
Phil’s fans would be much the same audience that Canadian broadcasters have been claiming for years that they don’t have the wherewithal to attract.
And all of this is creating a cottage industry here as forums are planned (I got two invitations Friday alone) where (for a nominal fee, of course) Canadian creatives can meet Internet “experts” who will tell them how to find an audience in this new and confusing multi-platform age.
I got a better idea.
Just watch Phil.
He gets it.
He understands his audience.
More people respond to his ridiculous question of the day than access any of the online presences of any of our broadcasters.
According to all sources, www.cbc.ca currently outperforms all other Canadian broadcasters online. Yet, to quote an email I got this week from one web marketing consultant who calibrates who’s surfing where…
"...cbc.ca has a tiny audience unless you measure it using a monthly reach metric; but monthly reach just gives everyone a large PR number to throw around. Their audience is minuscule.”
Well --- there you go --- proof positive that we need to throw a few million at the problem and get those numbers up, right?
Proof that we just need gatekeepers with more imagination in pure creative as opposed to pure greed.
Would what Philip DeFranco is doing translate to every comedy and drama series that wants to expand its reach across other platforms?
Of course not.
But any Showrunner and writing team immersed in their creation could certainly recognize where some of what he does connects with what they do and take it from there.
But because our networks are loath to take risks, both creative and financial. And because it’s always easier to whine until the government gives you money, we’re already three years behind some guy with ADD and a student loan laptop.
And in the end, the money that drips from the public tap will come with rules and restrictions while simultaneously turning off most other potential revenue streams. More work for bureaucrats. Less for those who need the work.
Watch Phil instead. And enjoy your Sunday.