BY THE time you read this we will have passed a significant milestone, our dogworld.tv YouTube channel will have notched up two million views and while it took us almost three years to amass the first million the second million has come in just eight months – at this rate we could be looking at a third million by Christmas.
It is difficult, looking back, to remember how what is now dogworld.tv moved from an idea to reality what I can remember oh so clearly though are some of those early pieces of video where we used handheld domestic camcorders and looking back at the quality now… well let’s not dwell on that!
What was always clear was that people wanted video. While we were using those camcorders we were able to experiment and some of the results were surprising. In the year when there was no proper TV coverage of Crufts our short clips from around the show were well watched; the most popular being a piece of our Heelwork-to-Music columnist Richard Curtis giving a demonstration in the activity ring. In those days we measured a good result in terms of a few hundred views whereas these days we’re looking at thousands.
The real breakthrough came when we were chatting through some ideas with Eukanuba. Between us we hatched an idea for a series of what we called Breeders’ Masterclasses. Each masterclass was to see a panel of four experts answer questions from a small audience on topics including what makes a world class show dog? and what makes a world class breeder? Those making up the panels included the likes of Zena Thorn Andrews, Mike Gadsby, Frank Kane, Harry O’Donahue, Liz Cartledge and many other greats. The first masterclass was filmed at Blackpool championship show in 2009 using a single camera, the result was an instant hit – the audience loved it. With Eukanuba we worked out a deal to produce a series of these programmes and in turn that allowed us to make the significant investment in broadcast quality cameras, sound equipment and editing software.
The next big outing, and the first chance to make full use of our own equipment, was the second masterclass which we chose to film on the same day as the Eukanuba Champion stakes final. We hadn’t planned to film the final itself but once we had finished recording the masterclass it seemed silly not to make use of the equipment we had on site and so we recorded our first ‘show’.
People were already talking about what we were doing, and talking about it in glowing terms. At the end of 2009 we filmed at LKA and then in the spring of 2010 we filmed the first in our series of An Audience With…. when Pat Craig Trotter visited to the UK. In what has now become a tried and tested format we sat Pat down in front of an audience of around 50. Andrew Brace talked to her about her life in dogs and the audience chipped in at the end with their own questions. Since then we have filmed audiences with Marion Spavin, Di Johnson, Derek Smith, Carla Molinari and Frank Sabella and we have produced a series grooming guides for breeds including Toy Poodles, Bichon Frise and Lhasa Apso.
The other big development was to get pedigree dog shows back on to national TV and we managed to do this too in 2011 when our film made at City of Birmingham was picked up by the digital channel Horse & Country TV, that in turn led to a commission to make 12 programmes for the channel and early next month the 30th Around The Dog World – filmed at Hound Association of Scotland – will be aired on Horse & Coutry TV. What pleases me even more is that the programme has been bought by a station in Thailand and I am told by those who have visited there that it is shown on a regular basis. One of the most popular of the episodes each year seems to be the year ending ‘Best of’ edition, after the airing of the ‘Best of 2013’ Facebook was awash with glowing reviews of the programme, which gives everyone who works to make the programme a real sense of satisfaction. Watch any of the previous episodes online at: www.dogworld.co.uk/section.php/1951/1/around_the_dog_world
In addition to programmes for the website and digital TV we have also produced a series of ‘moving adverts’. In print we can produce great adverts of a dog in profile but exploiting the full potential of video means that we can give a breeder or handler the chance to show just how good their dog is on the move and several top winning dogs have been showcased in just this way and now adorn individual breeder’s websites.
We have also started producing a series of DVDs which we are calling the Great Dog Series. So far we have featured Yogi the Hungarian Viszla Sh Ch/Aus Ch Hungargun Bear Itn Mind and on the Chinese Crested Nora, Ch Vanitonia Unwrapped. We are also starting to find that whereas in the good old days of print all we could offer was an obituary in words and still photographs today we can provide a video obituary as well, something which people seem to really appreciate; the most recent tragedy of James the Irish Wolfhound who won the group at Crufts. (www.dogworld.co.uk/product.php/112405/1569/crufts_2014_hound_group_winner_james_dies)
One of the other things that dogworld.tv has done for us is take us to new territories across the world. Our video has been watched in over 200 countries, some I’d never heard of! It probably does not surprise you to know that the US is one of the biggest consumers of our video.
So what next? We need to try and do more of what we are doing. We currently cover nine to 12 championship shows per year (www.dogworld.co.uk/section.php/17/1/championship_shows) in video and we’d like to do more – and so would the societies who run the shows. We want to do more of the instructional videos that we convert to DVD, things like our Junior Handling DVD for example. I want to see video play a bigger part in our news coverage but of course one of the issues is having the film crew in the right place at the right time. And of course we’d love to try some live streaming, I believe there could be a demand for us live stream best in show judging from the major all breeds championship shows that happen virtually every weekend during the summer.
What I’m certain of though is that video will play an ever bigger part in our dog show coverage in the coming years and of course the increasing sophistication of smartphones and tablets alongside the improvement in wifi, 3G and 4G means that it becomes ever easier to consume our video content.
Looking back at those early videos where we had to balance getting the camera close enough to the subject of the interview to ensure that the built in microphones would pick up the voices while having them far enough away to make the shot look normal I realise just how far we have come and I am so glad that I ignored all the nay-sayers who said it would never work and stuck to my guns and of course there is the extra satisfaction of watching some of those nay-sayers eat their words!
One quote that will always stick in my mind, when showing an Around the Dog World programme to a non-doggy friend of mine, who clearly expected to be thoroughly unimpressed by our videos, she said ‘Oh wow! It is like proper TV.’ And that has always been our aim – quality. Video at dogworld.tv is still a relatively new venture, but with every event our experience, and we are reliably informed by our audience, our quality does too.
This weekend sees us back out again with the cameras, this time at WELKS Championship Dog Show, and we hope you will head over to www.dogworld.tv to catch some of the show – full video coverage of all seven groups and Best in Show. (www.dogworld.co.uk/section.php/1943/1/welks)