Time magazine writes, "So if 2006 was the year of You, 2007 was the year of Them. Big media companies (like this one) stuffed their sites with blogs, podcasts and video." We find this view of web UGC about as far-sighted as the people who said, "Oh, TV is just a fad. Radio. That's where it's at".
Sure, the big media companies have rushed to cash in on the legions of online eyeballs there for the taking. With sorta-kinda ubiquitous broadband and much better codecs, web video has undergone an amazing transformation over the last few years. Who didn't expect big media to cash in, or at least try? There's gold in them there broadband connections, and the suits in LA and New York can smell it, even over their D&G cologne.
The rub lies in licensing; both for content, and for the airwaves. Big media is big media simply because they control the means of production. It takes millions to start a TV station and, it takes millions to license a TV episode. For those reasons, TV has to "get it right" nearly every time. Get ratings, or get canceled. That's the Hollywood way.
Web content, on the other hand, can be produced on the cheap. Ok, sure, that means there'll be a ton of terrible content. Really bad, really lousy, really unwatchable content that not even a mother could love. There will also be gems. There are far too many talented writers, actors, comedians, and would-be directors on this little blue orb for us to claim UGC is stillborn. 2008 isn't the year UGC dies; It's the year UGC grows up. Individuals producing content won't win the day, at least not in series form, but small dedicated teams of people with ideas, writing skill and equipment -- which gets cheaper by the day -- will.
We say, with all due respect, screw Time Magazine. Here are our predictions for 2008:
YouTube's lousy quality and miserable interface will cost them marketshare
High-quality UGC begins to blur the lines between pro and amateur
Seesmic will die a horrible death. Complete with French accents
Great writing + better than average production * reasonable length = gold
Semi-pro daily shows will win the 2008 race