A writer at NBC's "The Office" has gotten the nod from MetaCafe users as the "fan favorite" among original Web series from the popular video hub. The contest called MetaVote has been running on the site in the last month to help generate sustained interest in web-exclusive programming. The material was supplied by Strike.TV, which brings offline talent to the Web. As we all know after years of many more misses than hits, webisode audiences are tough things to build. I have to admit that even the stuff I have seen that I liked in the first few episodes fell off my radar quickly.
As a way to tease out the series with the most viewer support, and a candidate for prolonged sponsorship, Metacafe pitted seven Web series in a contest that drew more than six million views. The series were created by screenwriters from recognizable media successes: "The Office", "Malcolm in the Middle," "Die Hard." The winner, "Dwelling" is written and directed by "Office" writer Anthony Q Farrell. It was a clear favorite, getting 34% of the votes. The series involves a group of quirky housemates in and out of work and the little enmities that develop among them. Didn't see that one coming, did you?
The MetaVote program called attention to half a dozen other series as well, including "Let's Get Laid" (girls navigating the dating scene), "Daryl from OnCar" (rogue and intrusive in-car customer help), and "B-Rock" (President Obama as hip-hop superhero. For those of you who remember Hard Drinkin' Lincoln and "God and Devil Show," apparently we haven't really evolved that much in Web animation.
Metacafe is touting the contest as a demonstration that Web video can generate a "TV-like" audience reach with 6 million views over a video hub that claims a 12 million unique reach, per comScore.Well, maybe. Whether the fragmented and unscheduled video habits that aggregate into millions of views really compare to the decades-long rituals of TV watching, appointment-viewing, and sustained watching is arguable. As much as time-shifting has made some TV watching patterns feel more like the Web, I am not so sure that comparing raw eyeballs and views of bundles of Webisodics to TV metrics is going to get short-form providers very far. Aligning a specific series that gets traction with audiences to a sponsor may have more demonstrable power. "The Dwelling" gets awarded a second season online exclusively at Metacafe. A sponsor partner will be attached to the series and may get integration in the show's content.