Medium Sits Down With Jason Segel on Its First Web Video Series

Show could expand ad opportunities

Most people see Medium as a place ruled by the written word, but the blog platform doesn't want to be limited to plain text. It recently launched Foreword, its first video Web series, featuring conversations with famous writers.

Jason Segel, screenwriter, actor and author, appeared in the latest installment of the 12-episode series, and upcoming guests include Walter Isaacson, John Cleese and Anne Lamott. (Segal shared his three rules to live by in the 12-minute spot.)

Edward Lichty, Medium's head of corporate development and strategy, pointed out that video production isn't native to Medium, but the subject of Foreword fits the platform's focus on writing. Also, Lichty is married to New York Times bestselling memoir writer Kelly Corrigan, so the program had a ready-made host.

"We want to be a place where thoughtful people can exchange ideas," he said.

Medium, created by Twitter co-founder Ev Williams, wants to showcase its potential as a hub for video, Lichty said. For now, users can only post videos that had been created with tools and platforms outside of Medium. However, it's possible that Medium would develop a native video player at some point, Lichty said, but currently there are no plans for one.

There's good reason the San Francisco startup would dabble in video. It is building an ad business, and video is another potential opportunity to attract brands, which have limited options on the platform so far. Brands seem to love online video advertising, especially on mobile devices where viewership has increased 400 percent over the past two years, according to Ooyala.

Lichty said marketers have already approached them to sponsor Foreword. Last year, Medium did launch some branded blogs with native content, including BMW's re:form and Marriott's Gone

Last December, Medium drew 17 million unique visitors, Lichty said. 

Medium could explore ways to generate money for the writers on the platform through advertising, too, Lichty said.

"As the platform matures, we definitely want to be a place where writers can have a rewards system for their writing," he said. "Some of them want to make money, and we definitely want to be a place where that happens."