Friday, October 12, 2007

Online Video Experience: The New Yorker Let’s You Download Their Ginormous Video Clips, And Then Let’s You Down

I enjoyed a video clip on newyorker.com of a story about Steve Martin. I find that I am watching more and more lengthy videos online. The thought of doing this didn't connect with me until recently. It just sort of happened, and it was because of the content not the technology.

I remember 15 years ago digitizing video on a Mac, and being so excited to watch any video clips on the computer. It was thrilling, but it was because of the technology. I would digitize small clips from movies that I loved. It would take hours to compress, but seeing two minutes of movies like Birdy or Wings of Desire was well worth it.

Steve Martin replayed his famous comedy bits from his own perspective and in an historical context. It was funny to hear them again through this new window. People giggled in the audience as I did watching it on my PC, hearing the story of how he discovered his comedic path and innovated. What a gem to be able to hear how he set his own comedy guidelines in a genre he was creating.

This type of content really establishes The New Yorker's brand with me. Unfortunately, they drop the ball from a user experience standpoint just as they are succeeding on the content front. On the website around the video, they let you download the actual video to your desktop, but they fail to tell you that the file is over half a gig in size (551MB!). How long does this take? Is that why I am on The New Yorker website? The other core thing they provide under the video is a link for you to subscribe to "Festival Video" via iTunes. What is Festival Video? I clicked on a Steve Martin link. I don't know what Festival Video is. Why would I subscribe?

The New York Times website has great content as well, but also provides the surrounding online video experience I've come to expect today:

  • Copy-to-clipboard the permanent link to share
  • Email it directly from the website
  • Subscribe to their RSS feed on iTunes
  • Scan through related links, in context
  • Scan thumbnails to a number of other videos easily to keep the experience moving on their website
  • Scan through a tree structure to other videos groups organized by content type
  • P.S. – They also have a YouTube Director's account where they post their own website content for free

The New Yorker has really great content. I read stuff there all the time. It's a little disappointing that Chris Crocker of "Leave Britney Alone, You Bastards!" fame has better online video tools at his disposal, for free. It's sad that this sublime Steve Martin interview would never come close to Crocker's 5,253,942 channel views.

Here's the Steve Martin Video Interview from the New Yorker

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