NYC.TV Hopes To Bring The Spirit Of Public Access TV To The Web

Hey, remember public access? Those local, non-commercial channels where you’d find weird stuff (and, sure, city council meetings) that made you think, “Wait, how is this even on TV?”

Well, public access hasn’t gone away (heck, it’s become Stephen Colbert’s temporary home), but Kareem Rahma, co-founder and CEO of a new video startup called NYC.TV argued that there’s no real equivalent on the web.

Ahmed previously worked as director of audience development and growth strategy editor at The New York Times, while his co-founders Alexandra Serio and Max Nelson worked at Vice and Vox, respectively — so they’ve got experience with the world of online media and video. What they want to do here, Rahma said, is “bring back the spirit of public access”:  “We saw an opportunity for an independent media platform that not only funded and distributed media, but also fostered a sense of community.”

But, uh, what about YouTube? The video supersite certainly has the “anyone can broadcast” ethos of public access, resulting in unique content that would (probably?) never make it onto traditional TV.

The challenge, however, is actually getting people to watch. Rahma said that from a viewer’s perspective, there’s simply too much video to sift through, while from a creator’s perspective, it can be frustrating to put a lot of time and energy into something and only get a few hundred views.

“You can’t just throw it on YouTube — that’s not how it works anymore,” he said.

So NYC.TV is hoping to help worthy local videos find an audience. That means highlighting content from New York City-based creators and also developing new shows. Viewers will be able to submit their own content, too. And yes, if it takes off, there are plans to launch similar sites for other cities.

The team is hoping to fund its efforts through a $50,000 Kickstarter campaign. While NYC.TV is a for-profit company, Rahma said the money will go to support the creators — 70 percent will pay for content, 20 percent will go to distribution and promotion, and the final 10 percent is marked for backend development — though even there, the company says, “This will actually probably end up going to marketing.”

As I write this, the campaign is still more than $10,000 a way from its goal, with about 48 hours left to go.