Chung parody is a serious hit on YouTube

Clip of crooning journalist logs more viewers than show

June 22, 2006|By JOE BURRIS | JOE BURRIS,SUN REPORTER

The three-minute parody video features Connie Chung as a lounge singer in pink lace atop a piano, bungling a melody about the recently canceled MSNBC show she co-anchored with husband Maury Povich. It's intentionally silly and insipid.

Yet unlike Weekends with Maury & Connie, the video has drawn a steady audience. In fact, it's one of the most viewed clips on You Tube.com - a popular free video screening site on the Internet that gives new meaning to short-attention-span theater.

YouTube appears to have picked up where Web logging, cell phone cameras and MySpace have left off - satisfying an all but insatiable need for individual expression. And like the popular MySpace, YouTube is not only a video viewing site but a social networking site, allowing users to create profiles, post films and leave comments.

The Connie Chung clip - which had more than 400,000 views by early this week, according to the Associated Press - is right there on the most-viewed list with soccer footage from packed stadiums, raunchy amateur films, a six-minute review of pop music dancing called The Evolution of Dance, animated cartoons and personal ads on working from home. Even Nike aired an ad featuring Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho.

"People love to watch things other people created online, and this is the next generation of MySpace," said LeeAnn Prescott, senior research analyst at Hitwise, a San Francisco-based company that monitors Internet use. She said that online video watching has grown with improvements in increased subscription of broadband Internet services. "More people are subscribing to broadband," she said, "so they have faster Internet connections. And so, viewing videos online becomes easier."

Based in San Mateo, Calif., YouTube was launched in February of last year by Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, who met while working for the electronic pay service PayPal.

According to the company's Web site, the two came up with the idea for the company during a dinner party where they discussed difficulty in sharing videos on the Internet. They built the company with an $11.5 million investment from venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.

Now, YouTube boasts more than 50 million video views daily while receiving more than 50,000 video uploads daily.

Hitwise lists YouTube as the 38th most-visited site among the 500,000 it monitors. YouTube is tops among video viewing sites, cornering nearly 43 percent of the market.

"It started with the Lazy Sunday: Chronicle of Narnia video," said Prescott, referring to a Saturday Night Live skit involving two hip-hop artists on their way to see Narnia.

"It was so entertaining that people passed it around through MySpace pages that linked to YouTube," she said. "It introduced people to YouTube, and people said, `Wow, what a great way to upload images,' and it really snowballed from there."

joe.burris@baltsun.com

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