Michael Lustig at the TheLip.TV’s studio in Beverly Hills.

Michael Lustig at the TheLip.TV’s studio in Beverly Hills. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

The average online video now clocks in at just six-and-a-half minutes. But a handful of L.A. digital studios are placing their bets that attention spans can be stretched much further.

They’re making lengthy online talk shows and have had varying degrees of success: Some are attracting hundreds of thousands in advertising dollars while others are just trying to draw a crowd.

But the companies are all hoping that when Internet-connected TVs become more commonplace, their shows will be the beneficiaries of an explosion of viewers – and ad dollars.

With that in mind, TheLip.TV in Beverly Hills is searching for its first hit from a slate of four talk shows that cover topics that include independent film and winemaking. The shows can go on for more than an hour and Michael Lustig, TheLip founder, said he will launch two more long-form productions in coming weeks. He’s especially enthusiastic about the flexibility of the medium. The length of the show is not a big factor.

“If there’s a great conversation, we let it go,” Lustig said. “They’re not constrained by a few minutes.”

But getting discovered online is no easy task. Most videos TheLip.TV has posted on YouTube since launching in September haven’t reached 1,000 views. What’s more, building a consistent audience around a new show can be difficult when hosts don’t keep to a regular schedule: Some are professionals whose day jobs can keep them away from the camera.

Still, there’s plenty of promise, judging by the success of liberal political talk show “The Young Turks” produced by TYT Network in Culver City. YouTube invested in TYT’s new talk show channel, Town Square, earlier this year. TYT projects $400,000 of ad revenue this year from that channel alone and far more from its flagship “Young Turks” talk show.

Another digital studio, ThisWeekIn Inc., an online video outfit of a half-dozen employees in Culver City, makes about $500,000 a year from selling sponsorship rights for its shows, which run between 30 and 90 minutes and examine companies and business trends.

Lustig’s idea is to gather his audience and attract brands that will sponsor the episodes that cost between $2,500 and $5,000 to produce. TheLip.TV had about 113,000 total views on YouTube as of May 16 and Lustig said he’s in talks with his first sponsor.

He used about $500,000 he raised from angel investors toward renting a Beverly Hills studio and buying equipment. Some of the cameras purchased were secondhand. The first shows were shot against a bare black background, in a style Lustig calls “Charlie Rose.”


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