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Debut Of Episodic Web Videos

The evolution of content on user-generated video sites like YouTube goes something like this: from lip-syncing the words to music videos, to clips of pets doing stupid/amazing/cute things, to stunts reminiscent of MTV's Jackass. And now, to scripted, episodic shows with "all the trappings of a professional production."

Is this the future of Web video? "The Burg," a satire about the hipster scene in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has managed to develop a small-but-hardcore group of fans--most likely hipsters from Williamsburg-after just 11 episodes. Everything from the music to the location to the clothes is authentically Williamsburg (and essentially an ad for local businesses). Its staff works for free, but it has actors from such professional productions like "All My Children."

Naturally broadcast networks, talent agencies and advertisers are interested. "These scripted, episodic shows are great," says Eric Bader, senior vice president of digital connections at media buyer MediaVest USA. "They create a defined idea in the minds of the viewer, and brands can get a halo effect."

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Filmmakers love the YouTubes of the Web because they let them circumvent the system and provide an in-road to reaching their niche audience. After failing to get a distribution deal for "Four-Eyed Monsters," two filmmakers began a video podcast that was, in effect, a serialized documentary. This, in turn, generated a following, and enabled them to later show their movie in six cities.

Read the whole story at Business Week »

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