Which Web-Based TV Shows Are Up, Down -- Or Out?
Traditional TV marketers always know what's coming. Their point of measurement comes down to what a show did in the ratings, or how much did the production cost, or, which advertisers are buying in.
This goes double for TV business writers. During the Television Critics Association tour we are reminded again how these glaring reference points create the walls we live in. Never is this more apparent than when we're trying to make sense of the new Internet-based TV shows.
In a recent Sony Pictures Television press conference, journalists wanted to know: How much does that David Faustino Web series, "Star-ving," on Sony's Crackle.com, cost? (Mid-six figures for the whole run.). And what's the measurement of its success? (Unclear, as of this writing).
Writing business stories about TV shows made for the Web are difficult.
Bob Kushell, host and creator of the Web talk show "Anytime with Bob Kushell," signed up 1,000 people as "friends" almost overnight for his newly opened Facebook account. Well, yes, that's a good sign. But in traditional TV terms, that doesn't sound like much.
It comes down to this: Getting comparative Web-series audience metrics isn't only important to getting advertisers to buy in, it's important in sifting nuggets of information to get TV writers/bloggers to write about a series -- which, in theory, gets viewers/users' interest piqued.
Two million views for a 10-minute clip on YouTube? That sounds pretty good, more than an average traditional viewing of a cable show. Even then, how does this compare to other stuff? What else was running at the same time?
MediaPost Editor in Chief Joe Mandese loves to point out that Tina Fey's impersonation of Sarah Palin last year got more views (12 million to 14 million) than what an average Tina Fey "30 Rock" episode gets on NBC. But did those YouTube viewers watch all the way through? How many were in the key 18-49 demographic? Does that matter?
Every Web site seems to have its own answers, metrics and standards, all of which makes it harder for comparison -- especially with writers looking to make sense of it all.
Unfortunately TV writers, critics and business writers, want a clear definition -- a headline, a lead -- of who is up, down, or out.
For example, I have yet to hear about a Web-based TV show that has gone on hiatus, or a show runner who has been replaced, or whether a Web TV star is holding out for more money.
The Internet doesn't tell that whole story yet; if it did, it still would need some editing.