Eric Schmidt might be vowing to keep Google out of the television production game, but Yahoo is heading in the opposite direction.
The company just unveiled a legit programming slate — eight shows, so you know they mean business — and will start rolling out the content in October.
And it just might revive the tired, convoluted concept that is the web series. Here’s why.
THEY’VE GOT STAR POWER.
Judy Greer (right), Niecy Nash and Morgan Spurlock (who just launched a show on Hulu) are all in the mix.
Plenty of sites have poured earnest capital into funny kids with cell phone cameras, only to find out the hard way: though you feel like you hear about a YouTube sensation going Hollywood every other day, the Internet is not the place to try to launch a star — not if you actually have money to lose. For every Stevie Ryan, there are scores of unwatched talents.
THEY’RE THINKING LIKE A NETWORK.
Look at the loglines for these shows: getting-healthy adventures, love life dissections — there’s a whole show about the art of crafting a marriage proposal.
Yahoo isn’t bothering with the experimental subjects and formats that often go hand-in-hand with web stars. They’re aiming directly at women, and not trying to reinvent what a certain type of female viewer wants.
There’s no “just give it a shot, you’ll love it by episode three” factor.
NO WONDER, SINCE THEY’VE GOT A FORMER NETWORK BOY WONDER.
Three out of eight of the shows come from Electus, the ad-production hybrid agency run by Ben Silverman — who once ran NBC.
THEY’RE NOT BOTHERING WITH SCRIPTED.
That aforementioned “give it a shot” factor? It’s a hundred times more crucial when selling a drama or comedy. Online reality shows are one easy step away from your favourite YouTube channel — they’re just a more natural sell on the Internet.
THEY’VE GOT THE PLATFORMS.
Half the battle of getting users to watch a web series is getting them to remember, visit and return to the URL it calls home. Yahoo doesn’t just have the profile and user numbers of producers’ dreams; they also have the celebrity-focused omg! and women’s-content Shine to help prop up the content.
And in the interest of not sounding too impressed:
We’ll go ahead and issue our prediction for the first show cancellation Yahoo will ever have to make. Here’s the synopsis for “Your Friends Will Never Believe You”:
A high school couple is on a date somewhere in Middle America. When the boy gets up to use the restroom, the star of her favourite television show sits down, tells the girl she’s beautiful; then he says “your friends will never believe you” before he runs out of sight! It was an experience she will remember forever, but will her friends believe it happened? Each week, a new celebrity will surprise one of their fans in a unique manner that will literally never be believed.