Last week, a video surfaced on the Internet of an allegedly drunk NOPD officer driving on Interstate 10. The video, posted anonymously on YouTube, quickly circulated across social media and eventually led to an internal investigation into the matter. On the Twitter page for his startup company Bideo, Pike Barkerding asks, “How much do you think this red-hot shoot … would’ve sold for on Bideo?”
Barkerding’s New Orleans-based startup Bideo combines eBay with YouTube. It provides users with a means to auction their news-worthy videos and images to the highest bidder. When an individual captures an important event, instead of posting it on Vimeo, YouTube, or another free video-hosting site, he or she can instead offer it to Bideo, protect it with a watermark, and then auction the exclusive rights to publish it to competing news outlets.
“Our mission is to incentivize the user/creator who captures the footage to get that to the people who are most capable of distributing it,” says Barkerding. “A few years ago, some editors said they would never air a video if it wasn’t captured by their cameras. Their mentality was, ‘It’s against our policy to pay for it — but you can give it to us.’ Now, with the emergence of Bideo, they think, ‘This is the best footage out there, and I’m willing to pay for it.'”
Barkerding came up with the idea for Bideo when he was evacuating for Hurricane Katrina while studying economics at LSU. As the storm hit his home in Hammond, La., Barkerding captured a short clip on his Motorola RAZR of heavy winds, tormenting rain, exploding transformers, and a tree that fell onto a car.
“The capitalist in me immediately thought, ‘This is something of value—something that the news would want to air.’ So I talked to a few people and found out that they’d be willing to purchase it. If more than one news agency wants to purchase this video, how much should I sell it for? What’s the best way to figure out the price of something as ambiguous as a news video?” explains Barkerding. “The best solution from an economic perspective, I believe, is an eBay-style auction. By placing the video in an auction, a user can get true market value by letting the market decide what it’s worth.”
While Bideo’s first sale was a set of “Octomom” photos, the company goal is centered around more news-worthy content. The most successful piece of footage on Bideo came in June of 2010. It was the first video filmed of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, captured by a group of men fishing the rig when it exploded. They immediately drove their boat out about 200 yards, turned around, stopped the boat, and filmed the explosion and a few secondary explosions. When presented with the clip, Barkerding was eager to get it uploaded to Bideo.
“The issue was, it was June when he approached me,” explains Barkerding. “The explosion happened at the end of April. So this guy, he didn’t understand the value associated with the video. So he sat on it for about a month and a half, and the value of that image depreciated drastically over that period of time.”
While the clip sold for $2,500 to ABC (who competed with AP News and Reuters on Bideo), several assignment editors told Barkerding that, had they been able to bid on it four weeks earlier, it would have been a $55,000-$75,000 shot.
“Unfortunately, we missed our shot,” says Barkerding. “But as more people discover Bideo.com, we’ll have more opportunities to both host new content as well as increase bids for existing content.”
Mike Zolnick writes about technology and entrepreneurship for Silicon Bayou News, which partners with NolaVie. Born in Delaware, he has a degree in psychology from Tulane and is a former contributing writer for The Santa Fe Reporter. For more information on Silicon Bayou News, visit SiliconBayouNews.com.