The Not-So-Secret Of Success for Internet Shows: Advertise On TV

It takes more than a little word-of-mouth buzz to be a successful original Internet show. Better use one of  marketing's most effective tools: TV. found this out firsthand for its new show "Mayne Street." It was viewed nearly 2.5 million times in the first 48 hours, with another one million views on mobile devices like iPhones, including clips on It was the site's most viewed single video in the past six months.

Numbers like this are akin to some decent cable network original program premieres. And that should come as no surprise. The difference with "Mayne Street" versus other original Internet shows is that it got the benefit of some prime national TV advertising on ESPN's litany of cable networks.

"Mayne Street" stars ESPN personality Kenny Mayne and a cast of characters. Mayne plays himself in a fictionalized version of life working for the likes of ESPN. The series runs in 15 three-to-five-minute episodes.

A few years ago "Gold Rush," an original Internet reality competition show  from  producer Mark Burnett, ran on AOL and  grabbed 10 million or more viewers overall. Part of its success came from CBS airing valuable on-air network promos for the show.

No doubt, word-of-mouth for freaky YouTube shows, Tiny Fey's Sarah Palin impersonations, and other videos can garner millions of viewers.  But much of this is lightning-in-a-bottle stuff.

It's a lot tougher job to get big viewership from the ground up. This requires major marketing efforts -- something media executives don't want to spend big money for. At the recent OMMA Video event in Los Angeles, digital video ad agencies  kept taking about clients looking to "viral" their video projects, creating buzz -- the cheap man's approach to marketing.

But ESPN should be commended because it used valuable on-air inventory for promotion. Did it make money? Probably not -- considering the marketing and production costs versus how much ESPN got back from advertisers sponsoring the show.

But you have to start somewhere.



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