OTTAWA—The Canadian film and television industry received an earful of advice from young video producers Thursday. At a discussion panel, titled “Meet the kids of the brave new world,” held at the Canadian Film and Television Production Association’s Prime Time Ottawa conference, young, successful “Youtubers” urged industry producers and content providers to “get on board.” Corey Vidal, an online video content producer, said YouTube is changing video delivery in the same way that iTunes changed music delivery. At one time people bought CDs and cassettes and listened to entire albums, but iTunes has allowed consumers to download and listen to individual tracks. “You can download one episode of The Office for $3 onto your phone and you can check it out. That’s really offensive to the creator because, ‘That’s not how you’re supposed to watch it. It’s like picking up a book and reading one chapter,’” Vidal said. “But iTunes has taken off, whether you like it or not. You have to get on board.” Panel members agreed that Canadian content providers should not be afraid of fans uploading clips to YouTube or social networking sites. “You’re trying to create buzz, and spreading buzz through Youtube is sort of like word of mouth—back when we were humans,” said actor and writer Jessie Gabe, who recently worked as script coordinator on the CBC show Being Erica. Vidal said content owners in Canada need to start using their fans to conduct “free advertising” through social networks, increasing the popularity of content and, ultimately, sales. He said the major content owners and distributors in Canada should sign deals with YouTube, as some major networks and content providers have done in the United States. Last year, Disney Media Networks reached a deal with Google-owned YouTube to make advertising-supported content from ABC and ESPN available on the Google video portal. “Wake up,” Vidal said to a room of policy experts and officials in the television, film and interactive media industry. “It’s 100 per cent organic. You don’t even have to do any work. You don’t even have to create the account and upload the video. People are doing it for you. So don’t pull down the video.” Panel member Chantal Leblanc-Everett, production and project manager at Lifeforce Entertainment Inc., noted that YouTube videos are always the top results in Google video searches—and that’s not going to change anytime soon. Vidal said CTV, Canada’s exclusive Olympics broadcaster, should make much more Olympic video content available on YouTube—rather than trying to drive traffic to its own website. “They’re not going to CTV.ca, I’m sorry. They’re going to YouTube, and there’s nothing you can do about it,” he said of online viewers around the world. In an email, CTV spokeswoman Bonnie Brownlee directed The Wire Report to CTV’s Olympics YouTube page, which offers short form clips, athlete interviews, and short form features of video content “on a branded CTVOlympics.ca channel.” Brownlee said the objective “is to reach the large YouTube audience, show them teasers of our great content, and drive them back to CTVOlympics.ca for more great live and on-demand content.” Panel member Nadine Sykora, another content creator and popular Youtuber, suggested that content providers do a better job of educating consumers about what is available on their sites. “Most people don’t go to CTV.ca to watch . Most people still don’t know that they can watch full episodes online,” she said. Leblanc-Everett said one way to reach the online market is to establish interactive communications and social networking dialogues between fans and content creators and characters online. “Although the stories are linear, it’s very much interactive on the web,” she said. Vidal and Sykora—who earn ad revenues from the millions of hits their videos receive on YouTube—said companies and content producers can also view popular Youtubers as distributors, and work with them on projects to get access to their subscribers. Vidal said he has 7,000 followers on Twitter, 30,000 on Facebook, and 100,000 on YouTube. “It’s not just me. It’s Nadine and other Canadians out there,” he said. “Nadine has an audience of people who follow everything she does. She could talk about the winter Olympics, she could talk about her cat, and they actually care.” At a separate Prime Time panel Thursday afternoon, titled “The specks of gold in multi-platform prospecting—Production success stories,” film and television experts agreed that multi-platform initiatives for film and television productions are no longer an afterthought. Multi-platform initiatives now develop interactive games, iPhone applications, social networking hubs and other creative projects. “No one will talk about cross-platform content ,” said panel member Michael McGuigan, CFO at Breakthrough Films and Television. “Content will just be out there.” McGuigan his production company has had success through cross-platform initiatives tied to children’s television shows like Jimmy Two Shoes. For the show, his production company created a popular game on online and mobile platforms. The mobile component has been launched around the world, he said. Deborah Drisdell, director general of distribution accessibility and digital enterprises with the National Film Board (NFB), noted the organization’s success with its Online Screening Room. The Screening Room launched last year with 600 French and English films from the NFB’s extensive collection. Visitors to the website can watch the films at no cost, and content is not “geo-blocked,” which restricts foreign viewing. Today, the website has made 1,400 films available online, which have been viewed 4.1 million times, she said. Last October, the NFB launched an iPhone application for free access to the site’s content. The application was a runaway success, she said, and was voted one of the best applications from Apple’s App Store. Drisdell said that the NFB’s next step will be to monetize the application by giving people the option to pay for a permanent download—as opposed to the current 48-hour downloads. The pay option would come in addition to the free content. Panel member Barbara Baillie, director of interactive development with Astral Media, said the company’s interactive content tied to television programs is now being developed at the same time as the traditional creative content. When the Canadian Television Fund and the Canada New Media Fund merge to become the Canada Media Fund (CMF) on April 1, 2010, content producers will have more economic incentive to develop multi-platform initiatives. “Every single television production that receives money from that fund has to have an interactive component to it,” panelist Mark Bishop, an executive producer with Marblemedia, told The Wire Report following the panel discussion. The panelists agreed that the quality of content will continue to be key. “At the end of the day a good story is a good story, and it doesn’t matter what platform you use,” McGuigan said.