AOL Acquires Video Production Company
In an ongoing struggle to remain relevant, AOL has acquired video production company StudioNow for $36.5 million. AOL plans to merge StudioNow with Seed, a similar company based around user-generated video content.
The model for these sites is fairly straightforward: Clients contract work through the company, which then serves as a glorified middleman, assigning an independent contractor from their talent pool to carry out the job and collecting most of the profit themselves. There's potential there, but the opportunities are about as creatively fulfilling for the freelancer as they are lucrative (read: not very).
Is this the future of online video? User-generated, crowdsourced content with a pay model dramatically favoring the corporation over the creators? I was pretty sure the internet was supposed to level the playing field for independent producers and create inroads for new distribution models, but apparently the big guy is still trying to squeeze all he can out of the little guy.
Don't get me wrong, this has potential as a business model, but the number of companies starting to engage in this is a little alarming. A company like AOL should be spending their money producing engaging, original content, or at least interesting and appropriately compensated user-generated content, not crowdsourcing crap from struggling, well-meaning freelancers.