Is the online video industry making the world a better place? Considering that it created the phenomenon of binge watching, I wonder.
Talking to a 20-something ad buyer at a recent industry event, I asked him what was the
most hour-long episodes of a program he’d ever
watched in one sitting. Five, he said. That’s 5
hours straight. He admitted he often builds his
weekends around must-watch shows.
That’s what streaming video is doing. So besides helping our nation become large and lethargic, what good is coming from all this?
To get an idea, I made a list of 20 prominent
online video companies that represent different parts of the industry, then asked their press
contacts if their companies did anything charitable—and, if so, what?
Of those 20, 10 got back to me and told
me about their charitable works, while one responded that the organization didn’t do charity, but managers were considering it. I can only
conclude that the other nine hate charity and
probably kick puppies.
Reading through the 10 positive responses,
I was impressed. I expected to get lists of big-money corporate donations, but that wasn’t the
case. Online video companies prefer charities
that make a connection with the people being
helped, and they like to mobilize their work-forces. Charities that empower women and girls
seem hot right now, as do causes involving education and technology. A couple of the respondents mentioned working with Girls Who Code.
Helping less-developed nations is popular,
and many programs involve getting food to the
hungry, either at home or abroad.
I learned that corporate charity isn’t all about
big checks. Programs that allow employees to
use paid time to help nonprofits are popular.
Companies that offer them report participation
growing every year.
Some companies adopt a pet project and have
the whole team pitch in. They might provide relief to a remote village, or help a home for the
needy in their town. Many companies match
employee donations, but that wasn’t as common
as I would have guessed.
While some charitable causes are popular,
others aren’t. Causes that target diseases, or
support the arts or the troops, were surprisingly uncommon.
For perspective, I turned to a specialist in
corporate charity. Melanie Ulle is the CEO of
One way the industry could do more, she suggests, is by giving broadcast time to messages
from worthwhile organizations. “For instance,
giving free airtime to a veteran’s organization to
encourage businesses to hire our nation’s finest,
or encouraging turning off lights, or even eating
dinner with one’s kids at night. These simple
kinds of messages might make people pause
before binging on 10 hours of Breaking Bad.”
Let’s get going with those public service announcements. It’s going to take a lot of good will
to cancel out all that binge watching.
Troy Dreier ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is senior associate
editor of Streaming Media and Onlinevideo.net.
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Online Video Companies
Get Into a Charitable Mood