I haven’t given this a lot of thought but I wanted to “flesh out” some ideas and I thought I’d do this publically, because… Pizza.
Casey Neistat, the wildely successful and popular YouTuber, recently accepted an offer to “work” for CNN for $25,000,000 bucks. I say “work for” because I really don’t know all the details of the deal and for that reason you may want to stop reading, which is fine by me.
About a month after Casey started his “VLOG in early 2015, I came across one of his videos, loved it and then back tracked and watched the earlier episodes… (long tail… Look it up). From that point on I was hooked, I am fairly certain I’ve watched everyone of his VLOG entries, and yes, I still feel like a dope saying the word “VLOG”.
My own history of telling stories with pictures and video go back to when I used to travel on long trips. I’d take photos, I’d shoot video and nightly I’d conjure up some sort of “entry” for a travel diary. Yea, I was doing this before the word “blog” was popular. So basically I think I have some “standing” in the evaluation of the medium.
Casey was great!
I was drawn to his entries on multiple levels. Technically, they were amazing, (except of the occasional, if not frequent, bad audio from dropping his camera all the time), sociologically, they were fascinating. I couldn’t fully understand why so many people were watching and yet, I never missed an episode. Textbook dichotomy?
About a month ago (late October 2016) on Carl Olson’s podcast, I stated that I thought Casey had “jumped the shark”, soon after I was amazed that some people don’t know what that reference is. It wasn’t so much about what Casey was doing but what he wasn’t doing, and what he wasn’t doing was surprising me anymore.
(Perhaps the actual “shark jumping moment” was the day he hung from a helicopter for a Samsung sponsored video at some LA based award show.)
Jump to early November and the first few episodes where Casey referred to boring days filled with meetings, then episodes where he apologized that he was on the phone all day, and then the spat of missed episodes. All of these clues, now in retrospect, tell us that something was up.
Here’s the part that I don’t understand though.
In proselytizing YouTube for the past 2 years Casey himself always said he hated working for/with HBO because of the barrier between himself and his audience. I seem to remember multiple times when he went on and on about how the big companies didn’t get it. How much he enjoyed the simple “Submit Button barrier” between himself and all of us, his subscribers.
So why does he jump at the $25,000,000 from CNN (Casey Neistat Network, I wish I came up with that)? Maybe Casey still thinks that there is a way to create a tool to let non-talented filmmakers create stories that are compelling to watch, which was the apparent goal of Beme, his not so successful software company.
What CNN must know is that Casey, although very charismatic and compelling to watch is not necessarily a ‘news man’. I think the reason Beme was never wildly successful was that it didn’t have a Casey Neistat filter. My videos are never going to look like Casey’s so I may as well uncover my proximity sensor and just watch one of Casey’s videos instead. So, unless Casey himself is involved in editing the content for the new CNN media tool, will it demand the same audience draw that Casey’s work does? Doubtful.
What I can say about this deal is this, there is clearly one person who will definitely win from this acquisition and that is ME… As soon as Casey cancelled his daily VLOG I gained 10 minutes back in my day, now to figure out what to do with that time, and please don’t say running or VLOGGING.