Lonely Planet, the publisher of budget travel guides and a Website, is now getting into the Web TV business. Check out Lonely Planet TV, a beta site about to launch officially on April 2 where you can see three-minute video guides of Berlin, an encounter with jumping cats in a Burmese monastery, or an 8-minute-and-34-second rumination on the bleakness of the Falkland Islands. Lonely Planet TV is launching with six channels of about 50 professionally produced videos, but viewers can submit their own travel-related videos for submission as well.
Says Lonely Planet exec Blake Hutchison: "They can watch the videos, produce their own, and embed it on their blogs." But, please, no Thai massage exposés. Each submission is reviewed before being posted on the site. Viewers can rate the videos, comment on them, create playlists, or subscribe to channels and tags. The whole back-end is powered by Reality Digital, which also does the same for Viacom's AddictingClips.
Ads run in front of the videos produced by Lonely Planet, but not the ones submitted by what was formerly known as the audience. Those videos, though, are organized on the various channel pages, which do have sponsors. "I think they see it as risky," says Hutchison of advertisers' attitude toward being too closely associated with videos uploaded by random travelers.
But those videos may be exactly what other travelers want to see when trying to figure out where to go on their next adventure. And it's the type of thing many people would like to share. It's not too personal, but lends an aura of sophisticated worldliness to the uploader. It also makes traveling less lonely if you can share your experiences with the world.
For Lonely Planet, there is no downside. They get free travel videos aimed smack at their audience because they will be made by that audience. And they can supplement those with high-quality videos they produce themselves (akin to what you might see on TurnHere, except more global), which also serve as examples of the craft to the videographers in the audience. Now, how long will it be before the best submitters start demanding a share of those ad revenues?