I’ve been having lots of discussions with folks lately about the state of web video. Most of what I hear is in the realm of either, “I’ve never heard of a single web series you just mentioned…who watches this?” to, “I tried watching some of them but they stink!.”
These comments reveal two great truths about web video right now.
The first is that simply putting something online is not enough to get it noticed, even if it’s good. This is especially true when it comes to episodic content. Think about it. If you worked for NBC and we’re going to put a new show on the air you can bet there is an elaborate and expensive advertising campaign in place to promote the new show. Otherwise, nobody will tune in. This is equally true, if not moreso, online. You need to have some idea of how you will promote your work BEFORE you release it.
The second issue, that so much of the work is not all that good, isn’t entirely fair. There is some good stuff out there (check out The Guild or Drawn By Pain for proof) but the hard truth is a lot of it does suck and one reason is exemplified by this quote from a recent post on NewTeeVee:
“Cracked hires most of the work out to different comedy troupes. Typical video budgets are in the hundreds of dollars, are done for a flat-rate fee with no rev share for creators, and Cracked owns any videos created outright.”
Turns out you get what you pay for and giving out tiny sums of money means that the only people who are going to make stuff are either so amateur that it seems like better than nothing or so niave they actually think they can make substantial episodic video for no money.
Until distributors start putting real money on the table it is unlikely that we will see a big jump in quality content.