One of our goals when we started Medialoper was to look at independent efforts to create cool content for the new media audience — and Rocketboom was a prime example of how two people with a a camera, a broadband connection, and a good idea can succeed where so many media giants had failed.
The concept was simple: present interesting news in a cool format. It worked. The daily broadcast reached a huge audience. And then…the bottom fell out. Host Amanda Congdon left the program and the back-and-forth “he said, she said” stories flew across the Internet. It doesn’t really matter if Amanda was pushed or she jumped, not in the long run. After she left, the great Rocketboom experiment continued with a new host.
Some analysts have questioned Andrew Baron’s assertion that the show is more popular than ever. I can tell you that the buzz is diminished — when was the last time you heard about the program (if you’re a regular viewer, that’s an entirely different concept)? Today’s episode is already online, complete with an interview of John Edwards. Rocketboom 2.0 was unveiled, though a few days late, and new host Joanne Colan seems to be working out just fine.
Sure the audience appears to be much smaller, sure the original zeitgeist is gone (I caught The Amanda and Andrew Show at South by Southwest last year, and the audience was buzzing in a big way because the two had magic), sure there’s a lot more competition. Rocketboom was ostensibly the first independently produced Internet news show — it proves that you don’t need a a big budget or name brand stars. While the numbers are fluid, it’s estimated that, at its zenith, 300,000 people a day were watching Rocketboom. Given the Long Tail nature of some of the content, the actual number of views for some programs have apparently reached the million download mark. That, my friend, is the beauty of the Internet.
I fully anticipate that someone, somewhere is going to come up with a better Rocketboom (heck, I think someone, somewhere is going to come up with a better Google; that’s how this Internet thing works). But Rocketboom proved that you can succeed. It proved that controversy isn’t always a killer. And it’s proved that success comes from hard work (sorry, had to include that — New Year’s resolution to work harder and all that).