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商业 - 科技

打造下一个CNN:一家病毒视频传媒公司的创业狂想曲

Jonathan Weinberg 2014年06月16日

巴克洛夫特传媒创始人山姆•巴克洛夫特坚信未来线上内容的广告环境会更加完善。

照片来源:巴克洛夫特传媒公司

    新创立不久的英国巴克洛夫特传媒公司掌握了病毒视频的传播艺术,一举跃入YouTube新闻频道前10的行列。但它已经设定了更高远的目标。那就是,挑战CNN等传统电视新闻网,成为全球顶尖的事实性节目制作公司。

    10年前,山姆•巴克洛夫特决定跨出伦敦北部公寓的家门,成立传媒公司。如今,由巴克洛夫特传媒公司负责的新闻频道跻身YouTube新闻频道榜前10位,浏览量高达上亿次——甚至超过了美国有线电视新闻网(CNN)、半岛电视台(Al-Jazeera)或CBS新闻频道。

    它怎么做到的?答案是熟练操控病毒视频的黑暗艺术。

    巴克洛夫特和他的同行们不同,专攻那些大家必点的内容,更多的是老少咸宜的“奇幻大自然”或者“今晚娱乐”,而很少涉足晚间新闻类节目。当CNN在报导“25年后的天安门”时,巴克洛夫电视台的主打标题却是“潜水员差点葬身鱼腹”。CBS 新闻台一周内仅在YouTube上发布了两个视频,而巴克洛夫特发布的视频数超过200个。

    巴克洛夫特媒体也会发布许多题材严肃的视频,如“美国疾病控制与预防中心:在伊利诺斯州的中东呼吸系统综合症病例上,我们确实犯错了”等。但巴克洛夫特公司将高格调与通俗内容完美结合,紧紧抓住新闻的时效性,早已把专业性新闻媒体远远地甩在身后。

    而所有这些完全靠巴克罗夫特公司50名员工创造,完全没有任何外部投资。

    按照巴克洛夫特的规划,明年公司投放在YouTube 和包括MSN、雅虎屏幕(Yahoo Screen )、中国的优酷网(Youku)等平台上的视频内容会赚得10亿多次的浏览量。它曾经将制作的成品视频卖给《卫报》(The Guardian)、《纽约邮报》(New York Post)、《邮报在线》(Mail Online)和《电讯报》(The Telegraph)这样的合作伙伴;巴克洛夫特公司创始人说,如今它自己的电视产业部门已经非常受欢迎,完全可以用来发布这些视频。

    “‘2013年谷歌时代思潮’(Google Zeitgeist for 2013)收录了我们的一部影片之后,我们意识到,当初为了向电视和广播媒体宣传我们的视频,我们创建的这个YouTube频道实际上已经自行发展成为一种B2C模式了。”这位曾在一家全国性报刊担任摄影师的公司创始人说。“我们制作的短片正在创造一个全新的模式,使观众可以不通过其它中介网页,直接看到这些短片。”

    这家公司正在快速推进,充分利用自己不断充盈的线上收入,尽管这部分收入还不足以取代其它利润来源。最近,这家公司宣称已经与合作方建立了伙伴关系,将它的视频内容推广到日本市场。

    “线上业务是发展最快的部分,但是与广播经济相比,线上经济的规模仍然很小,”他说。“假如我们真是世界第二的广播新闻网络,我的车肯定比现在的豪奢。当市场对我们制作的内容估值很高时,我们会得到应有的回报。”

    与纽约和德里的情况相仿,巴克洛夫特也在英国首都配备了20名记者。许多人有在纸媒工作的背景,同时还接受过数字技术的培训。“其中许多人仍要从头开始学习商业方面的技能,培养如何根据不同媒体的要求提供相应内容的能力。”

    一些人批评巴克洛夫特公司,指责巴克洛夫特的内容是“点击诱饵”,还把巴克洛夫特归入目前的病毒式传媒大军。这些病毒式传媒包括Buzzfeed和Vice,它们投机性地利用了网络上的社会化传播模式。尽管巴克洛夫特承认,他们公司的目标是“震撼而轰动”的新闻,但他坚称自己公司的内容一贯“平衡而扎实”,而且他接受舆论的这种对比。

    By mastering the viral video, a British media startup has become a Top 10 YouTube channel. It has its sights set on far loftier goals.

    Ten years ago, Sam Barcroft decided to start a media company out of his North London flat. Today, Barcroft Media is responsible for a Top 10 news channel on YouTube , with hundreds of millions of views—more than the channels for CNN, Al-Jazeera, or CBS News.

    How? By mastering the dark art of viral video.

    Unlike its established peers, Barcroft specializes in must-see clips that are more at home on the Animal Channel or Entertainment Tonight than the evening news. In contrast to CNN’s “Tiananmen Square 25 years later,” Barcroft TV serves up “Diver Is Nearly Swallowed By A Whale.” In a week where CBS News publishes two YouTube videos, Barcroft publishes more than 200.

    Though many of its videos are indeed serious—”CDC: We were wrong on Illinois MERS case” reads one—the company’s mix of highbrow and lowbrow content and its sheer metabolism leave professional news agencies lagging behind.

    All this, despite just 50 employees and no outside investment.

    Barcroft projects that its videos will be viewed more than a billion times over the next year on YouTube and the other platforms on which it distributes them, including MSN, Yahoo Screen , Dailymotion, and China’s Youku. The company once worked to sell its videos to partners like The Guardian, New York Post, Mail Online, and The Telegraph; today, its TV arm is popular enough to be a destination in its own right, its founder says.

    “When one of our films was included in the Google Zeitgeist for 2013, we realized this YouTube channel we had set up in order to advertise our content to TV shows and broadcasters had actually developed a business-to-consumer life of its own,” says the company’s founder, a former national newspaper photographer. “These short films we were making were creating a whole new opportunity to reach an audience directly rather than solely through other clients’ pages.”

    The company is moving quickly to take advantage of its growing online revenue, even though it isn’t nearly enough to supplant its other revenue streams. It recently announced a partnership to bring its videos to the Japanese market.

    “Online is the fastest-growing area of our business, but the online economy is still far smaller than the broadcast economy,” he says. “If we were the No. 2 broadcast news network in the world, I’d be driving a much nicer car than I am. When the market values our content highly, we will get our rewards from it.”

    Barcroft has 20 journalists working out of the U.K. capital, as well as in New York and Delhi. Many came from a print background and were retrained with digital skills. “A lot of them still had to completely relearn their trade and how to produce content for different mediums,” Barcroft says.

    Some have criticized Barcroft’s content as “click bait” and categorized the company as part of a recent wave of viral media outlets that include Buzzfeed and Vice that take advantage of the Internet’s current social distribution model. Barcroft insists that his company’s content is always “balanced and well-reported”—even as he admits that it targets the “shocking and sensational”—and welcomes the comparison.

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