Not too long ago, the notion that the next TV hit would bubble up from the Web seemed a foregone conclusion. Idled writers and comics poured their energy into Web shorts; NBC imported Quarterlife from MySpace.
“It was something that got a lot of play during the writers strike,” says Brent Weinstein, CEO of Web video production house 60 Frames. Now that the strike’s over, though, there’s a lot less talk about Web hits graduating to the mass market, he says. “It’s not that you won’t see something leap to TV or film over time, but that’s not the goal.”
Indeed, it’s hard to find a serious producer of Web content who will admit to harboring hope that TV will come calling. Michael Eisner sold Prom Queen into international TV syndication, but that’s considered an outlier, not the core of a Web business model. So what is that model? Create a modestly budgeted show, with a narrow audience in mind, that you think would be appel to specific sponsors, like For Your Imagination’s DadLabs. Or, create a show expressly for an advertiser, like MSN’s In The Motherhood.
Will some parts of the Web hits end up retooled on the TV? Sure — in the same way reality TV formats and other hits from abroad can be remade as US shows. But don’t expect to see episodes of 60 Frames’ GILF or Douchebag Beach on the boob tube anytime soon. “I think the distinction is that we are not developing the content because we think [TV is] looking,” says Weinstein. “We are developing it solely with the goal fo making it work online.”
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