Tag Archives: webseries

ABCFamily.com Comes Up with an “Alibi”

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Sometime I wonder if I post things just to come up with a Variety-speak headline.

Anyhow, just watched episode one of “My Alibi” on ABCFamily.com (see below).  This was a pick-up for ABC of an existing show from Take180 which tries to elicit audience participation in the form of cliffhangers with resolutions that can be voted on.

The production value is decent and the casting of a 90210-alum can’t hurt but I am not convinced that this sort of simplistic interaction is going to be the hook for a webseries aimed at teens and tweens (or anyone else, really).  Primarily, these interactions tend to hurt the actual story since so many alternatives must be conceived and, at times, produced, even if they aren’t the most satisfying or dramatic direction, due to fan interferance.

Instead, webseries need to find more innovative and immersive ways to get audiences involved OR create a passive story that is good enough to stand on its own.  “MyAlibi” falls into a bit of an unfortunate gap between these two solutions.

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New Media in 2009 – Bigger Productions, Bigger Returns

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Like everyone else this time of year, I begin to wonder what the new year will have in store for us.  Since this blog is mostly about new media, I will keep this post focused on what we might be seeing in the world of online video in 2009.

Over the past few years the focus on the web has been the incredibly misunderstood and misused “viral video,” a slippery slope that has taken down any number of hopeful entrants.  We’ve also seen the rise and fall of the sketch comedy sites like SuperDeluxe and FunnyOrDie (yes, I know they still exist, but they fail to remain relevant).

Just in the past month or two, there has been a renewed, and stronger, push into original series on the web.  Most notable, perhaps, has been Joss Whedon‘s “Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” now having a lot of success in a DVD release.  Also of interest is the WB‘s “Children’s Hospital,” which broke some new ground by being a high-value production with name actors and releasing all ten episodes at once to what appears to be a healthy return.

So, for 2009, even with the economy in the crapper, I think we will be seeing more of the studio-backed sites giving it a go with high-end original webseries.  Not only in TV becoming a dead zone for scripted entertainment but the relative cost is still astronomically lower than trying to get scripted programming on TV.

As a sign of things to come, I present the trailer for Crackle.com’s “Angel of Death”.  Crackle is owned and operated by Sony.  Expect to see something like this from most of the usual suspects.  Whether or not it works is a much larger question. (via Tilzy)

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Playboy Tries Out Interns, Tries to Look Relevant

The first issue of Playboy, published on Decem...
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Playboy has definitely faced some challenges over the past few decades, not the least of which is that now, thanks to the internet, getting a chance to see a pair of naked breasts just isn’t that big of a deal and certainly not worthy of payment.

Sure, some will claim Playboy has always been more than boobs, and while it is true that they have had some incredibly good people write for them in the past they have never been a business built on literary laurels.

With Hef on his last legs and his daughter stepping down as head of Playboy Industries, it is a big moment for the company.  Will they be able to reinvent themselves for a new generation or will they suffer a fate similar to that of newspapers made irrelevant in today’s webby world?

If Playboy’s first original webseries is any sign of things to come I can’t say that things look good for their future.

Interns” follows three 20-s0methings who are taking part in a seemingly fabricated internship at Playboy.  Instead of taking a tongue-in-cheek approach like, say, ESPN has done with “Mayne Street,” “Interns” plays it straight, hoping that somehow young people will be excited to see just how dull and tedious it really is to work for a magazine publisher, even with all the bunnies hopping around.

Since this is an attempt to get more mainstream there isn’t even any nudity in the series.  In fact, it is clean enough that MySpace hosts their dedicated channel.

Every webseries faces a similar challenge: how to break through all the noise and distraction and get a dedicated audience to follow along over a number of episodes.  So far, “Interns” is getting just over 100,000 views/episode over on MySpace.  Considering the name recognition and potential these numbers seem pretty low.  Check out the most recent episode and you’ll understand why…

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Children’s Hospital, That Guy and Others Try All-You-Can-Eat Distribution

picture-3Let’s face it – it is not easy at all to keep an audience coming back for more.  Even major TV programs, complete with critical acclaim and plenty of marketing, can’t make the cut (I’m looking at you “Pushing Daisies“).

For episodic web shows this can be even harder.  Sure, you loved episode one of that new webseries but it was 3 minutes long and now you are suppossed to wait a week or more and then come back and check for episode 2.  Not a very appealing proposition and a major reason, I believe, that many webshows fail to get out of the gate and see massive downturn in viewership after the first episode.

Now, a few of the bigger players in this game, WB.com and Sony’s Crackle.com are both releasing series with “full seasons” available for immediate viewing.  That means, if you dig episode one of “Children’s Hospital” you can sit tight and watch all ten of them.  Same goes for “That Guy” on Crackle.

It will be interesting to see what impact this has on overall viewership.  Knowing all the episodes are there and waiting is a lot like having a good show stacked up on TiVo – you know it’s there waiting when you are ready to watch.  Maybe you will watch just one episode or maybe all ten but either way you know they are there.

Additionally, by releasing multiple episodes at once we get to decide how good the show is, not just the premise, which is all one can really hope to get if there is just one episode to see at launch.  It is, perhaps, too much to ask of your audience to commit to a new episodic program based on one 3-minute episode.

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MyDamnChannel Presents Agency of Record and I Have Some Questions

From the guys who brought us the best screencast webshow ever, “You Suck At Photoshop,” comes “Agency of Record,” a slick-looking new webseries over on MyDamnChannel and sponsored by Adobe.

Here’s episode one (it’s the only one so far…)

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A few questions:

1) Why is the first episode so long?  Over 9 minutes seems like a lot to ask for a webseries pilot.

2) Why so industry-insider? Unless you happen to have a lot of exposure to the world of ad agencies (sadly, I do) you might not even know what these guys do until well into the first episode and then you will be left wondering why you are supposed to care.  It reminds me of the great and short-lived Fox show “Action” with Jay Mohr – incredibly funny skewering of the Hollywood producers and agents but completely over the head of most Americans.

3) Why is there a 40-second opening credits?  Even real TV noticed people no longer have patience for things like that.  Get to the show. Fast.  Porn is just one click away.

The show has really nice production value and a positive attitude but I can’t see how the setting or the characters will help build the kind of audience needed to sustain an episodic webseries.

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The New View Review: Imaginary Bitches Making ’em Up?

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Timely post on NTV that goes back to the essential question for web video: what is a view?

This time, the videos in question are part of a new web series, Imaginary Bitches, starring All My Children actress Eden Reigel:

“Pointing to the inbound links on each IB vid on YouTube, our tipster noted the high number of views coming from suspicious MySpace profiles. For example, Episode 1 links include 4,463 views from Pam/Jenna (a fake Office profile). Episode 7 links include 18,938 views from Leona Lewis (a UK pop artist). There are several more examples, with each MySpace profile showing the video in the comments field, never embedded by the actual profile owner. Sometimes the videos appear in comments far removed from the profile’s front page.

Andrew Miller, the series creator and writer, denies any wrongdoing.”

Whether or not someone is pumping up the numbers is less of an issue than whether or not one can confirm or deny the validity of a view at all.  Until someone figures this out web video will continue to struggle to find ways to cashify.

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Will Smart Marketing Campaign Win People Over to the Party?

Wired has a look at a very successful “viral” marketing video campaign for the yet-to-be-released webseries THE PARTY.

In a series of short videos released to YouTube, we meet purported superdelagate Tom Ryan, who pleads with viewers to help him make the difficult Obama/Clinton decision.

“The tremendous response that the fake superdelegate character received illustrates how quickly grassroots supporters in this heated political climate can pick up and transmit information regardless of its accuracy, in what has up until recently been a closely-fought race where every delegate counts.

“We assumed that people online and in the blog communities would watch the videos and realize that we were doing thinly-veiled satire, but that’s not what happened,” says Howard Thomas, a 27-year-old Democratic political consultant  in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and the show’s creator and executive producer.”

In this heated political season (is it really a season if it lasts more than a year?) it isn’t suprising that so many people decided the videos were real.  The more interesting question will be whether or not these same viewers will be interested enough to follow the character to the upcoming webseries once they know it is all an act.

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