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The “Yacht Projects"

There is one last failure case that I want to cover. Actually this is more of a category of failures. Often I have worked with streaming engineers, and there is a term (or variations similar) that appears every now and then, and that is to describe a streaming project that is clearly more about the investors' vanity than about making a sustainable platform. We call them “yacht projects.” They are usually the result of someone wealthy, and with too much time on their hands, who doesn't get the TV industry and wants instead to own a “small” TV station, which is actually a webcasting business.

There are dozens of them out there.

They are the worst kind of customer. They almost invariably take up a lot of sales and business development time up front, wanting you to share the excitement of their vanity-publishing platform (which is incidentally extremely easy to sell into - just tell them “you love the idea”), but then get cold feet when they discover they have to both find and earn an audience, you can't just “buy one.”

There were many years when niche channels would start up, and create a lot of noise, and then simply go out of business overnight. This so-called dot-tv boom (in part because of the.tv domain suffix being made available at the time) drew a large number of skilled, but unemployed, people across the streaming sector and changed some of the dynamics from the human resource aspects of the sector.

Platforms like YouTube Live now soak up most of these “yacht projects” at the start up stage, and they soon lose interest when they realize they have to produce good content for a sustained period to really build an audience that they can monetize. If they get through the YouTube stage and want to grow further, then they start to become interesting clients with some specific problems to help them engineer solutions for. Also they will have some sustainability.

The good thing is that some of the “yacht projects” are quite interesting in their own right. The niches that people want to create video workflows around are as varied as there are people. As an engineer, if you can find a critical mass of clients to work for, and can help solve their problems, then some of those yachts are nice places to spend some time.

Also yachts tend to get people talking. They are generally more interesting to the individuals in the market than building one mega-platform for a global broadcaster. Small events and projects, enabling individuals and small groups to communicate better is extremely good acumen. I still occasionally help friends out for free with webcasts if they are going to look good on my company blog or other such PR.

Yet, looking for those opportunities has a relatively high cost of sale, and often depends almost entirely on relationships.

But I digress. Yachts are more about how you do your business than about content delivery network design. Let's get back to the premium models.

 
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