There’s this distinction between consumer generated versus professionally developed content, which has particular meaning in the Web video world. People go to Revver, YouTube and Google Video for consumer stuff; they visit Comedy Central, iFilm, and AtomFilms for professional content. Certainly, the consumer sites now contain a lot of professional stuff, both licensed and illicit. So breaking the distinction down by video portal is a bit misleading. The question for today is whether the distinction between consumer and professional is also misleading. And I promise not to use the word “distinction” again in this post.

The plummeting hardware and software costs to create digital video (DV) enable consumers to produce professional quality work. In almost all cases, quality refers to the production values of the video rather than the acting, plot and dialog. No surprise here since quality writing is a rare commodity even in good paying gigs. While good actors may be a bit more plentiful, union constraints and video makers discounting the skills and experience required to properly perform on DV lead to use of poorly trained or amateur actors.

Maybe, though, most consumers have no interest in dramatic, plot-driven material. Maybe, professional productions have a decreasing interest in this area. Maybe, consumers and professionals both seek low-budget, reality-based material. Well, maybe is a weak word — of course they do!

Yet I see the pendulum swinging back towards programming like “Lost” and away from “Wife Swap.” People like good stories. It’s really just that simple. Ultimately, Web DV will become an enabler for dramatic material, since it’ll allow producers to get stuff out there at a low cost with little risk. Reality type TV material will pervade many video portals for the foreseeable future, but all portals will provide an increasing amount of non-reality stuff.

The useless debate over professional v. consumer will evaporate. People will focus on the issue of too much dramatic content, studios taking the scatter-shot approach, consumers from all over the world creating interesting and watchable dramas and comedies. Will random chance dictate which DV’s emerge from this morass as “hits?” Dunno. But I look forward to the first bona-fide Web DV hit series.