Friday, August 26, 2005

Rocketboom's Powerful Lift-Off

Rocketboom's Powerful Lift-Off: "The news spoof is a model for video blogs -- and may transform the way TV is viewed

As the video opens, the young woman zips in from the left side of the screen, rolling her chair into place, behind a laminated desk and in front of a world map. 'I'm Amanda Congdon, and this is Rocketboom,' says the blonde with a big grin, explaining that today's show will be an experiment in rapid-fire dispatches.

With that, she shoots out of the screen to the right, reappearing from the left seconds later to report that American Idol fans cast 41 million votes by cell phone during the show's contest. "Damn," she deadpans. "That's more than voted for the President." She pauses, tips her head. "Well, maybe not." Then, zap, Congdon is yanked off the set once again and reappears to report on an iPod vending machine. Congdon rounds out the show with a spoof of a weather station pushing a "supercalifragilisticexpialidoppler" machine and a report on a $5.50 lock for Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

Don't bother looking for Congdon on your cable channel lineup. Rocketboom is a video blog, posted at rocketboom.com, and in 10 months it has become the most popular site of its kind on the Net. The brainchild of former musician Andrew Michael Baron, who writes the shows with Congdon, the three-minute mock news program covers everything from tech trends to pop culture with frank irreverence, sly humor, and a big dollop of unabashed silliness.

The approach is resonating with viewers. Daily downloads have doubled in the past six weeks, to 50,000. If they stay on that pace, they'll soon approach the 200,000 viewers of an established cable show, such as CNBC's Kudlow & Cramer. "There was this excitement early on that we videobloggers were at the forefront of something, but we didn't know what would happen," says Baron."


By Heather Green in New York

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