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Monday, January 30, 2006

Rocketboom: The Brave New Vlog that is Reshaping the Future of Media

Congdon ScreenshotThe age of video blogging and “citizen journalism” is being led by Rocketboom. What is Rocketboom you ask? Rocketboom is a New York City-based vlog (video blog) that serves up Internet culture and other quirky topics in about the time it takes to boil an egg (about 3 to 5 minutes). This brainchild of former musician Andrew Baron was launched in October 2004, as an outgrowth of text-based Internet blogging. Episodes are anchored and co-written by comely, sharp-witted, aspiring actress, Amanda Congdon and are delivered Monday through Friday by 9am EST.
Rocketboom fundamental business model was to build a substantial audience without worrying about generating revenue. This seems to have paid off. Rocketboom is now one of the premiere vlogs on the Internet with upwards of 130,000 daily viewers. Recent distribution via TiVo and Akimbo, which enables Web videos to be watched on TV, has further increased its reach. The content and composition of Rocketboom segments typically consists of any number of elements: stream-of-consciousness news vignettes, strange Internet media finds, tours of interesting businesses, haggling (but not purchasing) with street vendors over the price of pirated DVDs, or wandering the streets and asking a question like “Why is George Bush so awesome?.” Rocketboom strength is that it is raw, creative journalism that is not afraid to have an opinion, unlike stale mainstream news media. Congdon shoulders about half of the scriptwriting duties. She also finds the many of stories and takes on the tedious task of sifting through and researching audience submitted stories. To complete the Rocketboom formula, add Congdon’s aesthetic appeal, instant likeability, and quirky persona and you have a winner. Rocketboom is addicting. When asked about the future plans of Rocketboom, Congdon responded in an email:

“We're going to expand our correspondent list to include someone in almost every major city. We're also in the process of developing new shows and creating what we hope becomes a network of vlogs. All of the shows will have the Rocketboom "feel" but won't all be news anchor style.

For, which will always remain free of charge, we're working on a different kind of advertising model, one where the ads are at the end of the video and are worthwhile and interesting in their own right. That way people anticipate the ads, instead of dread them. We've been working on this prototype.

Here's an example: Rocketboom New Ad Prototype

The content is thus related to the ad, making the ad more powerful and the viewers happy. We find the viewers often comment more on the ad than the actual episode! So, yeah, we'll be making our own ads for companies. We'll also be auctioning off ad space (video only) on eBay. Only catch: We can do whatever we like with the brand of the company, who wins (porn companies will not be allowed to bid).”

The amazing thing about Rocketboom is that only costs about $25 to Andrew Baron Photocreate and produce an episode according to Baron’s blog, Dembot. Baron writes:
“…if you can find or loan a camera, a computer and an Internet connection, you can very easily create work that will support itself at any size. The news story behind Rocketboom right now and the story for any other dreamers out there is the daunting magnitude in which our humongous monetary value has outpaced our tiny costs.”

What does Rocketboom mean? Congdon says that there is no funny story behind the name and that producer/director, Baron chose it back in 2004 because he just thought it had a nice ring to it, and liked the space theme. Rocketboom is much more than wildly popular vlog. It embodies the reality that current technology gives “citizen journalists” the means to launch their commentary across the media at nominal cost with the potential to achieve extraordinary results. Rocketboom is reshaping the future of media.

FYI…For all of you Rocketboom/Amanda Congdon fans, keep your eyes peeled for Congdon in CBS’s “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” on February 2, 2006. She will be appearing as herself in an episode, in which the killer watches Rocketboom only to discover she knows the truth about his case.

Check them out online:

Matt "A Face Made for Podcasts" Largo


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