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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

WEB TV hits its stride

For the past several weeks, I had been working on a post regarding Web TV. On Friday, February 17th THE WALL STREET JOURNAL beat me to it with a very nice feature in their Friday Journal section entitled “Web TV’s New Lineup.” If you have not read it already, I highly recommend it.

In brief, they covered many of the new entries that have just begun or will soon debut on the web. Highlights include Netflix’ “Lillehammer” which I mentioned last week and a revival of “Arrested Development”, long a Fox cult favorite, also on Netflix. Madonna is producing a channel for You Tube that will have talent hunts and highlight videos dubbed “Dance On.” Amy Poehler, the pride of Boston College, is working on a You Tube channel funded by Google, called “Smart Girls at the Party”. It is said to build self-esteem for young women. Plans are for several A list stars to sign on to projects shortly.

The Journal piece focuses on production issues and signing bankable stars. My take is a bit different but consistent to what you have seen in previous posts over the last few years.

Simply put, many of these projects will likely crash and burn. So what! Since I have been in the business, some 72% of new network series never made it past their first season. Some will catch on, however, and a few could really have a significant impact on viewing trends and ultimately advertising.

We are all sick of hearing about fragmentation. But, this trend toward Web TV can only accelerate it. If I watch another episode of “Lillehammer” this weekend (and I will), it will take me away from some form of advertiser-supported television. There will likely be several hundred thousand like me and, once again, TV as we know it, will spring another small leak in delivery. If some of these shows catch on, they could do ratings comparable to a fair sized cable network. Should they be unusually well produced, they will get critical acclaim and buzz. This is very important with young people who are comfortable watching video online or even on their i-phones.

So, a few successes on Web TV will make the attractive upwardly mobile young demo even harder to reach than it is now.

A lady whom I admire and respect dismisses my thesis as nonsense. She is a very light TV viewer who is attracted to Web TV but says she would likely be doing something other than watching some form of video if she were not viewing a Web series. I see her point but feel that she is in a small minority. Few are as well educated, sophisticated, or lead a varied life as she does. For the overwhelming majority of us, every hour with Web TV will take us away from advertiser supported broadcast and cable.

As a viewer, give Web TV a chance. It is one more way to give you control watching good programming when and where you want it. Should you be a media planner, your job of hitting some key demos will just get tougher.

If you would like to contact Don Cole directly, you may reach him at doncolemedia@gmail.com

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