Writers' Strike Opens Web TV Opportunities
Posted by: Olga Kharif on January 17, 2008
Below, please find a guest blog by my colleague, Catherine Holahan:
With the television writers still striking, Kevin Rose and Co. are banking audiences will watch what’s playing on Digg. Today, Rose’s Internet TV network Revision3 (29292925) is launching “The Digg Reel,” a short online show featuring the top videos submitted to Digg (24526784). The shows’ creators hope to get a boost from frustrated television viewers starved for something—anything—new aside from NBC’s American Gladiators. (The last episode was won by a self-described competitive “stepper”… what Olympic event is that?) “It’s definitely a good time to be launching,” says Jim Louderback, Revision3’s CEO.
It just may be, according to at least one survey. Burst Media (BRST) released data to BusinessWeek indicating television viewers are watching on the Web and will tune in more often, should the reruns keep rolling. Slightly more than 72% of 2,600 Web users over 18 who answered a December online survey said they watch online video. And 25% of a slightly smaller sample said they would watch more online video if the strike continued.
The survey could be spun another way: nearly 43% of respondents said they would not watch more online video, even assuming the television turns into a graveyard of reruns and reality shows. Another 9% said they would watch less online video. Presumably, without television shows, they’ll just swear off moving pictures altogether and pick up a book. Though the survey doesn’t say.
But Jarvis Coffin, Burst Media’s CEO, sees an chance for online video producers to get noticed in the results. "There is an opportunity here for producers of original online content," says Jarvis Coffin, Burst Media's CEO. "There is definitely going to be an audience out there that is unattached and wandering at the moment."
Revision3 isn’t the only Internet production company planning shows to fill the void. Online television network Heavy (718452) plans to debut a show created by Hollywood veterans in mid-February, says Eric Hadley, Heavy's chief marketing officer. "The longer and longer it takes [for the strike to be resolved] the more people are going to look for alternative channels to be entertained," says Hadley. "This strike is going to have the same effect as the one that birthed reality TV; this one will birth an online video explosion."
Similarly, Web video network KushTV (39561489) is casting a show this month, titled California Inc., created by striking WGA writers, about five guys who come to Los Angeles in hopes of breaking into the entertainment business. All the actors will be cast from online appearances and Web videos. The hope is to launch the series of five to eight minute episodes around April. "I think a lot of people who are sick of watching reruns and reality shows on tv they are going to turn to the internet to watch some original content,” says Danny Chu, KushTV’s founder.
A few more episodes of American Gladiators, and I just might watch that show.