Looking At Bud.TV

Throughout the year, we are going to be subjected to various and sundry “YouTube killers”. One such animal is (was?) Bud.tv. Launched with the full faith and credit of the mighty Budweiser empire behind it, the site promised to be an edgy, Bud-oriented alternative to existing online video services.

Since then, numbers have declined from the reported 250,000+ viewers per month to approximately 150,000 viewers. These are not bad numbers, you might think, especially for a new venture. Today’s audience is fragmented enough that these numbers should not the be reason for the Bud.tv to commit the virtual version of hari kari (see: the short-lived Pirate TV or whatever it was called).

Bud.tv, out of the gate, had several hinderances. One, the fact that users have to register and verify their name and age before watching the programming. Apparently, their is a fear out there that watching programming associated with Budweiser will lead kids to drink. It’s clear that the people who forced this move do not watch real television. Being forced to register is a de facto audience limiter — the reason YouTube is YouTube is its accessibility.

Let me make this even clearer. In this case accessibility includes both watching video on the YouTube site and embedding the player in your own site. You can also send a link to YouTub content to your friends; Bud.tv allows that as well, but you have to share responsibly. That means no sending links to those under 21.

This limits the ability for Bud.tv content to go, as the kids say, viral. Budweiser has essentially positioned itself as a provider of niche content. Which, if what I’m seeing is any indication, creates a niche geared toward NASCAR males. Fair enough niche. You can probably draw decent but not blockbuster numbers by servicing the NASCAR crowd. I suspect Bud.tv will do just fine if the company lowers its expectations and finds a solid audience.

One aspect of the venture is scripted content, which theoretically contrasts with YouTube’s anarchist approach to content. As proven by the Lonelygirl15 phenomenon, audiences have an appetite for scripted online content. They are willing to suspend disbelief and they are willing to watch serialized product. I also suspect that female viewers outnumber male viewers in this regard. I could be wrong sure.

Bud.tv creates a “no girls allowed” vibe with scantily clad women, NASCAR “pit crew practice”, and extreme sports. While I’ve never understood why the 18 to 34 male audience is such a desirable demographic, Bud.tv seems to have embraced this mantra and more. Rather than embracing the notion that women drink beer and enjoy scripted content, Budweiser seems to think that their new video-based website should be an extension of traditional male-oriented advertising campaigns. What is funny in a thirty-second spot grows wearying as daily fare.

Already there is talk of revamping the site, including pushing more content to the home page (let us all now bow our heads in praise of the “duh” gods). Age verification will apparently continue to be a requirement. As for the content? It’s up to the Anheuser-Busch company to decide who the audience for Bud.tv is and how to attract that audience. Me? I don’t see going back to the site. It’s not for me.

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