Chastened by NBC’s failed experiment with “Quarterlife,” the networks have understandably been gun-shy about bringing Web fare to television. But ABC is giving it another shot with “In The Motherhood,” which is produced by Mindshare Entertainment (the branded entertainment unit of WPP) for MSN. ABC says it will air the sitcom, starring Leah Remini (former “King of Queens” star), and Jenny McCarthy (MTV, Playboy), in midseason.
This one is a lot safer bet than Quarterlife for a bunch of reasons: first, unlike Quarterlife, which targeted 20-somethings, “In The Motherhood” is targeted at a demographic that still watches plenty of television: 30-something mums. Second, it has a bona-fide star with a TV following (Remini), and another star with plenty of other fans (McCarthy). Third, it’s going on ABC, which caters to women with primetime soaps like “Desperate Housewives,” and fourth, it gets a lot more online traffic: 16 million streams of the second season vs. a few million for Quarterlife.
“In The Motherhood” was created as an advertising vehicle for Unilever and Sprint, but it got popular because MSN marketed it well, because it got mums involved in the storyline, and because by sitcom standards, it’s not bad.
The series is produced on a TV-scale budget: $40,000 a minute. That’s cheap by TV standards but astronomical for a Web series. If it works, expect it to kick open the door to more overtly branded video, and a lot more content produced by the advertisers themselves.
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