My 2014 Wishlist: What We Really Need From Digital Video
I’ve decided to wish for an original, episodic, native Web series that truly captures national media attention and the pop culture zeitgeist. These are the key ingredients needed to change much of the digital content versus television conversation. As much original content is being consumed online, the Holy Grail still remains the season premieres and finales of TV series, live sporting events, and awards shows. It’s not a volume of consumption issue. We do consume digital content, and for hours, and at astonishing rates for some folks. But somehow, PewDiePie (193 million views in October according to Tubefilter), Mu-Yap (179 million, TVnorge (126 million), lakornhd3 (87 million), and SpinninRec (84 million) remain names that are not household.
It’s not that native digital is filled with no-names, either. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg joined up for “Electric City” with Yahoo, Robert Downey, Jr. is doing “Playing it Forward” with Crackle, Ed Helms and Zach Levi do “Tiny Commando” with Yahoo! and McG and Warner Brothers produced Aim High. The A-list of celebrities (Zach Galifanakas, Jerry Seinfeld, Will Farrell, Will Arnett, Jason Bateman and others) goes on. But nothing has yet to hit the cultural relevance frontier. There’s consideration, perhaps, but generally no awareness.
For my wish, I’m talking about a breakthrough, serialized story that originates online, builds an audience, and gets the kind of media coverage worthy of any hit TV show, movie, or book. I want media coverage to the point where you can’t change the channel without seeing another promo, interview, clip, trailer, or ad. Newsstand covers, radio talk show coverage, contests, blogging, Burger King toy licensing, Fathead licensing, Macy’s store within a store – you get the idea.
So actually, the only list I have for you is the list of close-but-no-cigar things that we already have. My hope is that next year I’ll be able to write about _______ that debuted on _______ starring _______ and how it’s shattering everything we know about content creation and distribution. To do for _______ what “House of Cards” did for Netflix.
Here is my list of what I don’t want, because we already have these things:
Web to TV. Be it “Drunk History” or “Children’s Hospital,” there are original Web series that are moving, or have moved, to TV. Quality, humorous content that no one has ever heard of until it gets to TV. Why is that?
TV using Web. What is “Tosh 2.0” if not a Web show? After all, it’s based entirely on Web content. In fact, arguably, so is “The Colbert Report.” And yet, while we all know Tosh and Stephen Colbert, that’s as far as it goes.
Huge Web series with media silence. In addition to the creators I already named above, how about Smosh or Michelle Phan -- superstars cranking out videos with millions of views each week? “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” premiered at 3.1 million viewers a month ago. Multiply that by four weeks and compare those 12.4 million viewers to PewDiePie’s October numbers. But what’s the awareness of PewDiePie compared to RHO Anywhere?
Aggregators: Machinima and others aggregate audiences across creators and channels do form what essentially looks like a network. But that’s not what I’m talking about, either.
Alternative TV: I love Netflix originals, and I love that Amazon gave it a shot (#fail), and I haven’t tried Hulu yet. But those are all TV shows by any other name. Aren’t they? What will be one step further?
So that’s it. My Christmas wish list only has one thing on it. Now: Who will deliver?