Squeezing The Dummy

Monday, April 23, 2007

Bridge Documentary: Resolution

Many people have been asking me why the documentary is no longer available at YouTube. Perhaps this excerpt from an e-mail written to me by Andy Pedersen, director of In The Cards, will clarify:

I appreciate your desire to introduce the show -- and bridge -- to a wider audience, but the YouTube postings will actually limit the show's potential audience. It's no secret that television is a commercial business; no American, European or Asian television network will invest in a show and broadcast it to a mass audience if it feels that most of the core audience, bridge players in this case, have already seen the show. The YouTube posting could also damage my chance to make a longer and more bridge-accurate version of the documentary that I would then package on DVD with lots of extras (including a section about the Americans' very dramatic victory during the '05 world juniors).

But like I said, I'm afraid it's all jeopardized by the YouTube postings.

Essentially Andy is worried that overexposure will cause other markets not to want to air the documentary. Fair enough, but one could argue the reverse as well. If there was lots of interest on YouTube the networks may think the market for In The Cards is larger than they realized and it may encourage them to pick it up. Only a small fraction of the market would ever see the YouTube postings anyways, and those that did could create a huge word-of-mouth buzz. You see very similar things happen with free music downloads of relatively unknown artists.

This is not my call though, Andy is the copyright holder and has every right to choose to have the YouTube clips taken down, and that is what he has chosen to do. Hopefully Andy is very successful at selling the documentary to US and foreign networks, and hopefully other film-makers follow suit (no pun intended).

Before the videos were taken down part 1 of the documentary had been viewed about 5,000 times all the way down to part 5 which was viewed about 1,500 times. The small bridge blogosphere gave it a lot of hype including links here, here, here, here, here, and here. There were also posts on rec.games.bridge, the bridgebase forums, and netbridge.dk about it.

I even became a celebrity for a few days when bridgebase linked me on their main page inviting people to view the documentary. My traffic went from about 300 unique hits a day to 3,000.

I sincerely hope that the YouTube postings both exposed the bridge world to a larger audience and helped Mr. Pedersen's cause rather than hurting it.



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