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.
ESPN.com 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 ESPN.com. 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
But you have to start somewhere.