May 11, 2005 4:00 AM PDT

Riding the wave of video downloads

Sick of watching the same two windsurfing videos over and over, Karl Quist decided to make his own waves by producing daredevil content aimed at his kind of people--avid sports enthusiasts.

"I was the target customer--someone with an interest in a specific topic but starved for content," said Quist, general manager of Norfolk, Va.-based start-up TotalVid. "So starved, I was driving my wife nuts by watching the same videos like 1,000 times. I figured if someone is that immersed in a topic, they'll go crazy when they find a place that offers content they're looking for."

So a little more than a year and a half ago, Quist started TotalVid. The 10-employee company owned by Landmark Communications sells specialty videos--extreme sports, anime, martial arts and home improvement--for download to PCs.


What's new:
Start-up TotalVid, which sells specialty videos for sports and home-improvement enthusiasts, is tapping into growing consumer interest in easily distributed downloadable video.

Bottom line:
As consumers become more familiar with downloading video off the Internet, services such as TotalVid could be on the cusp of a big swell. But their success depends on the breadth of their content, as well as how fast it can be downloaded.

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Though not as ambitious in breadth of titles as more mainstream movie download services CinemaNow or MovieLink, Quist's service targets niche markets with customers who have fewer channels to turn to for content. At the same time, it taps into the increasing number of home-broadband customers eager for content and the growing consumer interest in easily distributed downloadable video.

"There a big trend toward more people producing video for smaller audiences--locally produced video for whatever target audience you're looking for," said Gerry Kaufold, an analyst with researcher In-Stat.

As consumers become more familiar with video off the Internet, services such as TotalVid could be on the cusp of a big swell. The download video service market is expected to grow in revenue from $1 billion in 2004 to about $5 billion by 2008, according to In-Stat. And though that number pales in comparison with the nearly $50 billion in annual revenues enjoyed by the movie industry, the download video market's growth is happening faster.

As home broadband connections proliferate, digital-content companies are chomping at the bit to offer broadband customers content such as movies. The challenge? Many consumers are used to buying their content through other avenues.

"There are already so many ways--DVD, VOD, P2P, cable TV, broadcast TV, satellite TV, pay-per-view, home video rental--1,001 ways to get the same mainstream movies easily and cheaply that the services are offering," said Todd Chanko, an analyst with Jupitermedia.

"I figured if someone is that immersed in a topic, they'll go crazy when they find a place that offers content they're looking for."
--Karl Quist
TotalVid founder

TotalVid's advantage is that it provides obscure content, such as movies on mountain biking, to a neglected part of the market. TotalVid offers more than 1,000 titles, which cost up to $4 and expire after seven days. In a classic up-selling move, consumers can also purchase a DVD and permanent digital version of a movie and have the rental cost subtracted from the DVD buy.

"TotalVid addresses an underserved market in a fairly accessible manner (downloads over the Internet)," Chanko observed.

But can "sustainable" be used to describe a business that offers titles such as "Concrete Secrets--Sidewalks and Driveways"? And can TotalVid set itself apart enough to make it a site consumers come back to?

"Nonconsumption is our biggest challenge," Quist admitted.

Speed is another. Downloading a movie to a PC can take about as long as

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I would avoid using this service because...
First, this site is using a Microsoft server. Microsoft technologies do not meet the minimum security requirements that I would feel comfortable using for an on-line purchase.

Secondly, after seeing the 'Microsoft Media' buttons on the site I'm assuming video's are delivered in a non-standard, virus prone Microsoft format. Would I have to use an insecure Microsoft operating system on-line to use this service? Microsoft has introduced viruses in just about every file format except text files. Pictures, music, documents, videos, rich text format, etc. (My guess is they are working on text viruses as I type) What would I do after purchasing if I wanted/needed to view it on a non-MS platform?
Posted by InsertBulletsHere (38 comments )
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Great Idea!
Terrific idea. I was pleasantly suprised at the amount of videos they have up there.

And personally, the MS format is just fine by me. Unlike some people, I'm more concerned with the content of the video, and less concerned with impressing my techie friends by bashing MS.
Posted by (402 comments )
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You are misinformed -> It is a bad idea
I have a Mac, a PC running Linux, and an iRiver portable video device. All three play files from my vast audio and video library encoded in various _standards_. How is this service a great idea for me?

I'm not a MS basher, my opinions are based on the facts. i.e. The Department of Homeland Security advises you not to use IE due to security concerns. (As well as any reputable IT security group)Are they all talking out thier respective a's? I think not, and if you knew what was best to protect yourself you wouldn't either.
Posted by InsertBulletsHere (38 comments )
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Why not use Video download studio?
It's a powerful video downloader and converter tool.
Posted by aaron_leo (4 comments )
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