Everything's coming up ᴄᴏɴᴛᴇɴᴛ
November 4, 2014 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Each week, the ᴄᴏɴᴛᴇɴᴛ industry observes a sacred ritual: Together, but not quite in sync, dozens of websites embed and then post the longest segment from John Oliver's HBO show, Last Week Tonight. That John Oliver's weekly video(s) will go viral is, at this time, a given. Whether or not the posts that embed those videos will go viral is another matter altogether. Each time around there are winners, losers, and mere participants. Here's what happened this week: "The John Oliver Video Sweepstakes"

Part of a series on online publishing production form the Awl: The Content Wars.
posted by Potomac Avenue (50 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
It is a fascinating topic. Judging from the bylines of certain "assistant editors" at Salon, I'm pretty sure their jobs are to literally post TDS/Colbert segments (with SLAM in the headline) and describe them in 150 words or less.
posted by Think_Long at 8:28 AM on November 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


This is a really interesting part of content publishing now. I was fascinated to see my friends post the 10 Hours of Street Harassment video from all different outlets. I saw probably 15 different links to coverage of it in my Facebook feed.
posted by wemayfreeze at 8:31 AM on November 4, 2014


This week's was about Lowes, and featured Nick Offerman from Parks and Rec, so I wonder if the distribution was different since it had an entertainment connection.
posted by smackfu at 8:35 AM on November 4, 2014


For all the shit time gets from everyone 21000 is a crazy number. How does that happen?
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 8:38 AM on November 4, 2014


What startles me about this model is how Time Warner or Viacom, the owners of the Daily Show and Last Night Tonight, haven't figured out just to make their own embedded video player, put the clips on their own site, and have everyone link to their own ad revenue sites, and then just stop putting the stuff up on YouTube.

It's funny how the article I read before this was about how Taylor Swift just pulled her music from Spotify, with her label just openly saying "yeah, we expect people to buy the album and we'll make more money this way." The fallout from when Viacom figures this out is going to be fascinating to watch.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:39 AM on November 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


For all the shit time gets from everyone 21000 is a crazy number. How does that happen?

You "like" Time on Facebook. Time now has ads in your feed, except they're not ads, they're posts from the thing you "liked." And if you didn't, a friend did, and they've reposted it so that's in your feed now. You'll never guess what happens next; what you are asked to click on may surprise you.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:41 AM on November 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


where "go viral" == "shared on Facebook"
posted by achrise at 8:50 AM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


haven't figured out just to make their own embedded video player, put the clips on their own site, and have everyone link to their own ad revenue sites, and then just stop putting the stuff up on YouTube.

That's what The Daily Show does. But John Oliver's clips on standard Youtube seem to get a lot more sharing.
posted by smackfu at 8:51 AM on November 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


John Oliver's show is getting so much right in terms of getting things to go viral:
-It's designed to be shared online, despite airing on HBO (I'd say Conan is the other TV show that is really, really embracing this concept)
-It's airing on Sunday nights, so it's going to have appeal as a Monday-morning distraction.
-It's doing outrage porn deliberately. I'd argue that Stewart and Colbert do this to some degree, but their primary aims (spoof the media and spoof conservatives) get in the way of the really cathartic expression of frustration. The obligatory guest interviews and commercial breaks also limit the time they can delve into topics, even though in total, they have more time for "news" in a given week than John Oliver does.
-Once weekly format allows them to really hit the comedy perfectly, without the burnout pace you hear about from the Daily Show staff.

I'm kind of surprised there aren't more shows that are designed to be outrage-news-heavy--sort of the Upworthy of television. I know Fox News does this, but is there a progressive answer to that?
posted by almostmanda at 8:51 AM on November 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show also does a great job getting clips to go viral, and also puts them on standard YouTube. I think lowering that friction is key.
posted by smackfu at 8:53 AM on November 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


I am dumb: what is a "Facebook interaction"?
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 9:04 AM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think it's when people hit each other in the face with books.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:10 AM on November 4, 2014 [45 favorites]


General Eisenhower warned us long ago not to allow the comedy/outrage complex to get this powerful. We need a new Taft Hartley Act to create a chinese wall between things that make people laugh and things that make people vote.

As a GOPer, I believe that God made Fox News to tell us what to think, and the homeless for us to laugh at. Notice how no Fox hosts are homeless people. This is the natural way.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:12 AM on November 4, 2014 [17 favorites]


...clips on standard Youtube seem to get a lot more sharing.

Because YouTube *works*. Individual media outlet players are, without exception, ass. Hanging, buffering, content-not-providing, region-limiting ASS.

Even Vimeo, which is presumably made specifically for internet video (unlike the media companies, who just want to publish there) is terrible. (And when it isn't terrible, the content itself is too "artsy" to be viewable. But that's another topic.)

I don't know why only YouTube can figure out how to play video on the the internet, but this is why it only goes viral there: Because people have learned not to click on video links that lead anywhere else, because that link *will not work*.
posted by DU at 9:14 AM on November 4, 2014 [28 favorites]


I think it's when people hit each other in the face with books.

The Huffington Post was hit in the face 15,525 times? Yes, I'll go with your definition.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 9:14 AM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


achrise: where "go viral" == "shared on Facebook"
When they passed the 1 billion monthly users mark.

What are you, unfrozen from 2012 or something?
posted by IAmBroom at 9:20 AM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


What's funny to me is that while overall Oliver's show is getting more views across multiple channels, something like Vsauce manages to get about the same throughput over time on YouTube. And for less money in production and marketing while maintaining a relatively high quality of program.
posted by Captaintripps at 9:25 AM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Poor Yahoo. They're like the Radio Shack of the Internet.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:35 AM on November 4, 2014 [13 favorites]


I've never heard of Vsauce and I'm on the internet all the time, so apparently I'm too old or their marketing is not as effective as you seem to think.
posted by desjardins at 9:44 AM on November 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


desjardins, you can take a gander here. His videos typically do 3 - 5 million views within a week or two of publication. It's good, facts-based content that's evergreen. Seems pretty effective to me!
posted by Captaintripps at 9:47 AM on November 4, 2014


The vast majority of people have never heard of pewdiepie either (thank god), and his numbers dwarf Oliver and Vsauce. "Big on Youtube" is still culturally marginal.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:54 AM on November 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


I agree. The big difference for me is I don't think pewdiepie's output has much staying power and I don't think he will translate to other forms of media very well. I believe that's not the case for Vsauce, which could (and probably will) make a jump to more traditional forms of media.
posted by Captaintripps at 9:58 AM on November 4, 2014


Why the heck is this a line chart instead of a bar chart? A line chart clearly implies interpolation: the point halfway between YouTube and HuffPo has a value of approximately 20000. How does that make sense? GAH. </InfoPeeve>
posted by rlk at 9:59 AM on November 4, 2014 [12 favorites]


achrise: where "go viral" == "shared on Facebook"

IAmBroom: When they passed the 1 billion monthly users mark.

What are you, unfrozen from 2012 or something?


I think you mean 2009, when Facebook actually had competition elsewhere in the world. Facebook is still expanding it's world-wide dominance, but it's top ranking is almost world-wide.

I was going to ask about how this sort of chart might look in other countries, but I realized there are no other countries (well, more or less - Russia has VK, and Odnoklassniki is king in a small portion of Russian territories, while Qzone rules China and Facenama took the place of Cloob in Iran).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:59 AM on November 4, 2014


Also, I think Facebook offers the easiest way to track "virility" of content from many sources. By doing so, they boost their cache with people who pay attention to this sort of "content traction" or whatnot. The monster feeds itself.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:04 AM on November 4, 2014


As fantastic as Last Week Tonight is, I don't know that Oliver will ever surpass his greatest contribution to humanity: The Fuck-You-logy. First presented in The Bugle, an audio newspaper for a visual world, it stands the greatest final world to some of humanity's worst.

(Speaking of The Bugle, I really want to see Zaltzman show up for a season finale. If he can travel to Mumbai to watch cricket, they can bring him over to New York for some puns about dogs or something.)
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:21 AM on November 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


(On my iPad, the headline reads something like "Everything's Coming Up [SQUARE][SQUARE]N[SQUARE][SQUARE]N[SQUARE][SQUARE]N[SQUARE] -- am I supposed to be seeing something different? Is this a math or stats joke that is flying right over my head?)
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 10:22 AM on November 4, 2014


This week's was about Lowes

No it wasn't, it was about ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. The Lowe's bit was just a side gag.
posted by Justinian at 10:28 AM on November 4, 2014


(On my iPad, the headline reads something like "Everything's Coming Up [SQUARE][SQUARE]N[SQUARE][SQUARE]N[SQUARE][SQUARE]N[SQUARE] -- am I supposed to be seeing something different? Is this a math or stats joke that is flying right over my head?)

it says "CONTENT" in small caps on my screen, presumably using weird unicode character equivalents.
posted by blue t-shirt at 10:29 AM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Everything's Coming Up [SQUARE][SQUARE]N[SQUARE][SQUARE]N[SQUARE][SQUARE]N[SQUARE] -- am I supposed to be seeing something different? Is this a math or stats joke that is flying right over my head?] -- am I supposed to be seeing something different? Is this a math or stats joke that is flying right over my head?

Nah, it's just "CONTENT" in small-caps through (apparently excessive) unicode-cleverness.
posted by JiBB at 10:29 AM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Whoa, so on a lark, I decided to Google for "ᴄᴏɴᴛᴇɴᴛ", and this came up. At first I thought it was turning MeFi posts/comments into Youtube videos, but apparently it's grabbing stuff from other sites as well. I have no idea why anyone thinks this is a useful or necessary service, but I guess all those server farms full of Youtube videos aren't going to fill themselves up.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:47 AM on November 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm almost positive that HBO's plan is to share season one only, to hook people into subscribing after that. I tried to find a cite for this but, predictably, trying to google it just brings up page after page of John Oliver videos.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:49 AM on November 4, 2014


Last Week Tonight in its pure, live-on-tape form, is 'broadcast' on you-gotta-pay-extra HBO. Putting segments up on YouTube is just like taking Chipotle burritos and handing them out on every major street corner. Except you couldn't get enough Chipotle burritos and my analogy sucks.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:51 AM on November 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


DU I don't know why only YouTube can figure out how to play video on the the internet, but this is why it only goes viral there: Because people have learned not to click on video links that lead anywhere else, because that link *will not work*.

This. I rarely click video links on facebook anymore. Because they inevitablly lead to some random site with a video embeded in such a way as to be unwatchable on my phone. This and slide shows (no I'm not clicking next 25 time, just so you can serve me more ads I won't even see) are the bane of my facebooking.
posted by zinon at 11:05 AM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


I curse Oliver's success. The Bugle has suffered enormously at the hands of this "Content" - and for what? so a million "Ten Weird Tricks..." ads can get more click-thrus. Fuck that, and Fuck You Chris!
posted by Colby_Longhorn at 11:15 AM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


This. I rarely click video links on facebook anymore. Because they inevitablly lead to some random site with a video embeded in such a way as to be unwatchable on my phone.

Or a link to a page with an embedded youtube video.
posted by dismas at 11:22 AM on November 4, 2014


Judging from the bylines of certain "assistant editors" at Salon, I'm pretty sure their jobs are to literally post TDS/Colbert segments (with SLAM in the headline) and describe them in 150 words or less.

Yes. And it's quickly becoming the default mode for most sites—not just the daily pop culture treacle-drips, either. Previously respectable news sites have embraced the shit out of this model as part of their continuing sad and doomed quest for relevance via maximum page-clicks.

It's sickening and embarrassing and frankly, we should all be ashamed of ourselves.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:59 AM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


What startles me about this model is how Time Warner or Viacom, the owners of the Daily Show and Last Night Tonight, haven't figured out just to make their own embedded video player

Oliver's show is not actually owned by Viacom or TW or any big media company like that.
posted by rusty at 12:19 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Previously respectable news sites have embraced the shit out of this model as part of their continuing sad and doomed quest for relevance via maximum page-clicks.

Slate, stand up and face the class.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:20 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I really want to see Zaltzman show up for a season finale. If he can travel to Mumbai to watch cricket, they can bring him over to New York for some puns about dogs or something.

"Some puns about dogs"? I would expect nothing less than an EPIC DOG-THEMED PUN RUN.

(And yes, The Bugle really has been the victim of John's success. I think they should have reduced it to fortnightly or monthly rather than the current "weekly, but hey NO NEW BUGLE this week sorry.")
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:24 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I...just don't care anymore.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 12:43 PM on November 4, 2014


Non-YouTube players are so terrible. And while video ads are annoying, YouTube ads are actually the least annoying--they have a much larger inventory of ads so I'm not stuck watching the same one over and over, and lots of them are skippable.
posted by jjwiseman at 2:13 PM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


filthy light thief: I think you mean 2009, when Facebook actually had competition elsewhere in the world. Facebook is still expanding it's world-wide dominance, but it's top ranking is almost world-wide.
I have been outnerded.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:25 PM on November 4, 2014


Also, I think Facebook offers the easiest way to track "virility" of content from many sources.

I imagine this is a typo but I also love the idea that John Oliver wins by being the Internet Era's Manliest Talk Show Host.
posted by psoas at 3:38 PM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


just to make their own embedded video player

Aside from being terribad for us viewers, I'm not sure it's a slam-dunk for Viacom. YouTube shares ad revenue with channels. Running your own video site costs money, and Viacom would have to run such a site efficiently enough to offset the loss of YouTube's greater audience.
posted by Monochrome at 5:01 PM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't know why only YouTube can figure out how to play video on the the internet

It's because Google is literally staffed by PhD experts in All Things Internet.
posted by odinsdream at 5:14 PM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, and YouTube has been building up infrastructure and solutions specifically for that for a long time now, and even they took a while to get really reliable (and they still aren't completely, they've just got the least bad solution). Rolling your own video streaming platform doesn't mean reinventing every wheel, but it's still hard, and expensive.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:47 PM on November 4, 2014


The vast majority of people have never heard of pewdiepie either (thank god), and his numbers dwarf Oliver and Vsauce. "Big on Youtube" is still culturally marginal.

It's very possible that if your definition of culture privileges only the culture with which you're already familiar at the expense of objective total view numbers, you are An Old.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:27 PM on November 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


YouTube....ads? Is this something I'd have to be some kind of non-adblock-using Neanderthal to understand?
posted by DU at 6:50 AM on November 5, 2014


Time Warner or Viacom. . . haven't figured out just to put the clips on their own site, and have everyone link to their own ad revenue sites, and then just stop putting the stuff up on YouTube.

I worked on Google Video before we bought YouTube. When I migrated videos from GV to YouTube, views on the same video content immediately went up by a factor of 20+. YouTube is still where the audience is.

Also, YouTube has pretty fair revenue sharing deals with content owners. So even if Time Warner or Viacom made much more money per ad, the greatly diminished number of views on their site would make them a) less money, and b) less relevant.

I guess the crappiness of other video players and lousy cacheing contributes too, but there aren't really any incentives for TW/Viacom to make their videos exclusive to their site.
posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail at 1:29 AM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


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