Welcome To The Dead Pool

A lot of shows and sites have been receiving the Fail Whale recently.

Bill Fail Whale

There’s nothing wrong with failing. Happens all the time. “Happens to the best of us”. Sometimes, it’s not actually a failure so much as an inability to meet requirements for continuation. You could have a perfectly successful show as far as getting the job done and delivering on time, but you’re just not getting the numbers of views or members or whatever your sponsors asked you for and your authorization to continue the show (or your funding) gets pulled, and that’s that.

More important than failing is what happens AFTER you fail… What happens to your media? What happens to your site? Did you think about this before you started your show?

I’m thinking about this today because I read Liz Burr’s post “Do Social Media Strategies Go To Heaven?”, where she talks about her WIRED SCIENCE Facebook app and the fact that the show itself was canceled and will not be coming back to PBS. She writes:

“The show’s cancellation has me asking myself, where do social media strategies go when they’re no longer needed? So far, the results of our most significant strategies are:

The Facebook application is especially interesting to me because it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Since launch, the application has been averaging 100 new installs per day. This is with no paid promotional activity whatsoever. I don’t expect this to stop anytime soon, because I don’t think we will reach a ceiling going at this (slow but) steady rate of installation (considering the number of users on Facebook). I designed the application to be viral enough for it to self promote. I suppose I could turn those activities off if I wanted to.

For the blog, we have decided to stop all posting, write our goodbyes and leave commenting open for a few weeks. We will then shut down all comments, and leave the blog up for the sake of Google and reference.  I am not sure what to do with the Twitter account. It essentially was a machine for the blog and site updates, but with no more site updates, what else is there? I suppose the Facebook fan page can stay in place, however we’ll probably put up a notice about the show and site saying farewell.”

So that project is ending, because the show it was supporting wasn’t picked up for a new season. However… The work that was done will remain and fans of the show will have access to it. Basically, it becomes “what it is”. A project that used to be active and is now inactive. C’est la vie. 😀

There’s a Next New Networks show called Bride-O-Rama that went “on hiatus”. 🙂

I can’t find on the page when the episode I embedded was uploaded, but a) I happen to know this particular show was cancelled a long-ass time ago, and b) the first comment is from October 29 so let’s assume it was canceled in late October, 2007 which was 8 months ago. Similar to the pending status of the Wired Science blog, this show remains in suspended animation. The shows are there to watch. The comments are there to read. As a matter of fact, NNN’s still serving recent ads on those pages, so anybody who happens by to check out some of the Wedisodes is helping out NNN’s bottom line.

OTOH… We have FastCompany.TV’s former offering “Global Neighbourhoods”, which as far as I know was canceled this very month, and immediately disappeared off the face of the earth as if it never happened.

Here’s what the “Global Neighbourhoods” creator, producer and host, Shel Israel had to say about it in his post Several Changes:

“That brings us to GlobalNeighbourhoods.TV (GNTV), my other online video program. Unlike WorkFast, GNTV is my baby, is an extension of not just the Global Survey, but Naked Conversations as well. As many of you know, GNTV was launched in March at FastCompany.TV, and–shall we say–had an inauspicious start.

When GNTV launched, I was not quite ready for prime time. If I was an actor, I would say I was prepared for a summer stock script reading. When the curtain went up, I found myself instead at center stage of an opening night on Broadway with some determined hecklers in the audience who managed for a while to distract me.

Most people seem to agree that I got better. After 14 episodes, I think GNTV has proved its value and professionals hungry for insights into how they can use social media in their businesses have found GNTV to have more than a little value.

A few weeks back, however, FastCompany granted my request to take back GNTV, to remove it from their site and to eventually relaunched it o a smaller scale on this site. Primarily, with FastCompany as a partner, the cost of sponsorship was too high for a new program. Here, I can charge a sponsor significantly less dollars and have great flexibility in the sort of deal I can offer. Here, I am the sole decision maker.

GNTV will go on a brief hiatus, until perhaps mid-August. I need to deal with the complexities of AV, production, storing, hosting, compressing, measuring, etc. Because some of these costs can be quite significant, I also need to have sponsorship before I restart.”

To be fair, Shel has posted a set of links to his 14 GNTV episodes he produced for FastCompany.TV on his blog. This means that assuming you knew he had a blog at all and assuming you saw that one post, you know how you can view his videos. I would guess that he Twittered the information and used whatever other publicity outlets he has at his disposal. However… Someone returning to FastCompany.TV will find that his show’s tab has been replaced with a photography show, and short of putting “Shel Israel” or “Global Neighbourhoods” in the search box, there’s no evidence that his show ever existed.

As far as his plan to relaunch his show on his own site… there goes his google juice. His videos will be available in the future at a completely different address on redcouch.typepad.com instead of fastcompany.tv. What’s the point? The point is that people are still hitting my Cory Lidle plane crash video from October, 2006, because they know where to find it from people’s bookmarks, forum posts and blog links.

If I had been moving that video all over creation, from domain name to domain name, people would hit dead links from the google searches and IME, *NOT* do more creative searches to try to find the same content… They just move on to other content that comes up easily under the google search for the same topic.

Similarly, maybe you have the same site… except your video host fell into the Dead Pool. Recently, VideoEgg discontinued its consumer video service and sent out a notice to people that had videos hosted by them that they were going to cease to host them shortly. Also, DivX’s Stage 6 streaming video site folded. The problem with this is that A LOT OF PEOPLE had videos on their sites which were actually embedded FROM VideoEgg or Stage 6. This means that they had to scramble to a) pull all their videos from those hosts, b) find a new host for all of their now-homeless videos, c) upload all their videos to the new host and d) go to every single post and change the embed code from the Videoegg or Stage 6 location to the new host location. If you happen to have over 300 episodes online, that could be a MAAAAAAAJOR DRAG! 🙁

So, that’s another thing to consider when you’re ready to make a show on the internet. While you worry about content and worry about being interesting and worry about being entertaining, and worry about getting sponsored and worry about your show being sustainable and worry about growing your audience and worry about creating surrounding social sites… you ALSO have to worry about what happens when your show lands in the Dead Pool. Do you have ownership of your own content after the fact? Do you have ownership of the site that it’s on? Are you going to have to uproot everything and start all over? If you get a new sponsor, can you easily swap the old one out and continue seamlessly creating content?

Believe me, you want to figure out / negotiate all these things UP. FRONT. and NOT when you realize your show that you thought was going to run forever is going down the tubes.

Welcome to the Dead Pool.

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5 Comments

  1. I think in my case with WS, clearly I am not able to operate under a budget to keep the project alive. So, it has to deadpool. Another thing specific to the situation is that in general, the project comes from an educational/informative standpoint, so taking down the site completely would conflict with that mission. The videos will still be alive, the articles, etc. Anything active would have to come to a halt though (ie blogging, commenting).

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