Posted March 22, 2012 3:12 pm by with 1 comment

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Netflix was created as a means of sharing the content of others with a large group of people. They were the librarian. The mail carrier and eventually, the storage facility for streaming files.

Now, Netflix is taking on a new title, that of content creator. As stated in Variety, Netflix has five original shows coming up in 2012. The first show, Lilyhammer rolled out last month and House of Cards is highly anticipated.

But bringing in an audience on a new series is tough enough for TV stations that have been doing it for sixty years. So Netflix is hedging their bet a little by bringing back titles people already love. They’ve agreed to help foot the bill for a new season of canceled series Arrested Development.  There was also talk of them taking on Fox’s failed dino-epic Terra Nova.

Bringing shows back from the grave might be the best bet for Netflix. It’s the perfect hybrid between completely new content and something folks are already familiar with.

Yahoo is walking that same line with a straight-to-the-web movie they’re backing from CSI creator Anthony Zuiker.

The film is called Cybergeddon, so releasing it only online sounds like a natural fit. The film will have advertising and will be heavily attached to Symantec and their Norton Antivirus product.

Zuiker’s excited by the opportunity.

“Instead of 5,000 theater screens, you can wake up to 50 million screens in one day.”

From an advertising standpoint, original, online video content has the potential to be a hit. It opens up new options for in-video advertising and it’s perfect for sponsors such as Symantec. It’s like the old days of television where a show was sponsored by a single company. (Visit your DeSoto dealer and tell them Groucho sent you!)

It’s also an interesting experiment in creating a new cash flow. Variety says Netflix owed $3.9 billion in licensing fees at the end of 2011. Now that there are more options for studios, they’ll likely raise fees going forward. By creating their own content, Netflix cuts out the middle man and has control over costs. Granted, they can’t run the company on original content alone, but it could be a profitable side gig.

Now, for you small business owners who are about to give up this article, thinking it doesn’t pertain to you — keep reading. It does.  Remember the dawn of cable television? Back then thousands of people created their own TV shows with cameras in their basement (Wayne’s World!). It was an excellent way to advertise locally at a fraction of the cost of creating a network TV commercial.

The internet is like early cable. It’s open to everyone who has an idea and the guts to go through with it. Do you run a camping supply company? Why not produce a weekly web series that takes viewers along on a trip. Are you an Avon lady? Produce a weekly series about the latest products and give make-up tips.

Not ready to step in front of the camera? No problem. There are already thousands of people creating informative videos for fun. Why not pay one of them to work for you? Find a video star that suits your brand and offer them a sponsorship deal. You might be surprised by what you can get while staying within your budget.

Creating original video content can be an overwhelming project but it’s doable at every level. You don’t need dinosaurs. You just need a steady camera and a sincere personality in front of it.