Webseries on TV – Breakthrough or Backdoor Ripoff?

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Full disclosure: I produced the webseries MY BEST FRIEND IS MY PENIS for Comedy Central‘s Atom.com.

This original series was produced for the web and Comedy Central paid pretty much what was industry standard for an original webseries (read: not much).  It was known at the time that Comedy Central might air one or all of the episodes on their TV network as well, as part of what they call AtomTV.

On one hand it is nice for a webseries to get that sort of TV exposure.  At the same time, it is going to increasingly become difficult for all of us to distinguish what is a “web” series and what is a “TV” series.  The main difference of importance at the moment is that TV producers are paid a fair amount of money to make shows for TV while web producers make much less.  This is mostly due to the relative revunue each can theoretically generate but when a “web” show is used on a TV series and ads are sold around it the web producer does not get any monetary benefit.

Let’s not even talk about the issues relating to SAG/AFTRA and how union actors can do a small webseries under non-union conditions (for now) but shouldn’t be doing the same if it is going to be on TV, right?

As the notion of what is “online” and what is “on TV” blurs it will be interesting to see what happens to the once standard models used to budget and finance original programming.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Webseries on TV – Breakthrough or Backdoor Ripoff?

  1. I agree, the line of distinction is getting a little blurred at this point. Some web projects are started (and invested in) with the intentions of proving concept that will hopefully get picked up for TV. A lot of noodles thrown on the wall.

    Then there are those that are clearly developed just for the web, often building out a whole interactive experience around the series. I think you can usually tell these ones apart, mostly from how involved the creators are in promoting and actually responding to their audiences.

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