Monday, March 7, 2011

Your Own TV Network

In this day and age anyone can have their own TV network. From celebrates like Charlie Sheen and Kevin Pollack to the kid down the street. Streaming video is the new wave and many are getting in on the act. It's way to easy to do it now as opposed to what you would need 20 years ago.

Live Stream & UStream will get you online in a matter of minutes. Roku, AppleTV & Boxee may take some planning but you too can have your own TV network and run it out of your house! You can have sponsors, charge per view or just do it for free. However in any case you need content people will want to watch.

Your online TV show or network can be set up with as little as a web camera and some software. Livestream offers a free broadcaster that will handle multiple web cameras. You can even transmit a screen shot from your computer and show it to the audience. Switching is as simple as clicking your mouse.

With YouTube now offering 15 minute or more uploads your show can be as polished as you are willing to put production time into it. Blip.TV will broadcast hours of content to streaming boxes the viewer can attach to their televisions and your show can be seen along side other broadcast programming. The sky truly is the limit!

So how do you start up a network?

First, you need to identify your audience. Who will you be speaking to and what will your show deliver to keep that audience interested? Long before you turn on your cameras and begin broadcasting you need a clear idea of how the show will look and target your audience.

Second, make sure you have the tools to broadcast a clean and viewable program to your audience. If you plan to go live, then you will need some hefty bandwidth to send a video signal out and clean audio. You may need to conscript some friends to handle cameras, mixing and such so you can concentrate on delivering the entertainment.

Third, you will need a set or background that is visually appealing as you deliver your show. It need not be complicated. In fact a blank wall may suffice.
If you plan to interview folks or talk with a guest you may need a comfortable area that looks nice where you both can sit and talk.
For instance, if you are doing a sports show you may want footballs, baseballs, or trophies in the set to accent it visually so the audience connects with the show theme.

You will also need to set a time each day, week or month when you broadcast your show. You can have fancy graphics too if you are able to make them. And you will need to market your show.

Putting on a show is easy, gathering an audience may be hard.

Promoting and marketing your show will take as much time as producing the show itself, probably even more. You should get a facebook page and dedicate it to the show then share it with everyone you know and ask them to share it as well. Your audience can help you grow viewership simply by talking about the show and sharing the link to your program. Twitter is also good to share air dates and grow your audience.

You can direct your audience to the web pages provided by the broadcast outlet. However, I recommend you build a web site to host your programming. You will have more control over it and you can monitor how often your show is being watched. Plus you have a home base where the audience can participate with you and the show. Hit counters will tell you how many times your site is visited and usually the broadcaster service will have a status page to gauge viewership. These tools will help you monitor the growth of the show.

When planning your show think about the subject and what you would like to see from a program about that subject, this will help you gauge what your audience will expect. Then deliver that idea. Try to stick with your original show idea. Sometimes a producer may feel he needs to broaden the show to appeal to a larger audience. This may or may not work. You may gather a few more but those who enjoyed your original show may leave if the subject drifts from what they like to watch. Keep it simple and on track.

Avoid crazy stunts or silliness to try to attract an audience, unless your show is a comedy. Humor is fine if you can pull it off but comedy isn't always easy. What you think is funny and cute may drive your audience to never watch your show again. There are way too many shows on the internet where the cast tries to be funny and simply can't pull it off. Also if you deliver comedy then your audience will expect it every show. If you can't keep it funny it will probably bomb.
If your program is more serious then keep it that way and deliver information that is useful and programs that are entertaining. You want to engage your audience but never bore them. Keep it on track and follow your format. Just like any TV show, your show will hang on ratings. You may never have to fill out a Nelsons book but you can easily gauge your audience by hits to your site and viewership.

Last but not least, if you never do it you will never know. So just do it! Your show may be a hit or never become a footnote in the annals of Internet history, but you will never know unless you try.
Also keep in mind that producing a weekly or even monthly TV show is a ton of work. Scheduling, planning, formatting and shooting will take time. If you edit your shows, that will take time too. Dedication is a key to Internet TV success. You have to put the time into it to get a large and loyal audience.

Look around for the tools you will need to put on a good show. They are out there and many are free. Plan it and produce it. Who knows, YOU may be sitting on the next huge Internet hit!

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