Until now, most major production studios looked at the online arena as a threat or a nuisance or, at best, a new channel to deliver content previously produced for the television. That changed today.
Warner Bros. is announcing that they will be unveiling 24 new productions that will specifically be digitally created and shown via the web. We’ll be able to see episodic ‘web shows’ (I’m not going to call it television shows), movie shorts, games, and cartoons.
What is especially different about this effort is that WB is moving forward on this without advertiser commitments – yet. Most studios have refused to take the risk on something like this without getting at least several companies willing to fork over some money to pay for it via some type of ad placement. Evidently, Warner Bros. thinks that viewer habits are changing rapidly enought that they’ll spark enough interst to get the viewers that will attract advertisers that will bring in the money that will pay for the shows.
Now the reality is that whatever they create has to show quality. It has to be entertaining. Otherwise it won’t fly. But the real change here is that Warner Bros. is forging ahead in this new arena without having secured the participation and money of those advertisers. The investment is reportedly just under three million, so it’s not as if they’re putting a great deal of cash for this. But they also aren’t doing it having the opportunity of examing best practices.
We’ll get to see shows such as a puppet show that’s going to feature a group of apes acting as detectives (The Simian Undercover Detective Squad), a soccer mom/talk show host who apparently broadcasts her show from her car (the Jeannie Tate Show), and – keeping in line with TV studios producing shows about people like themselves – an ongoing story about two guys that run a digital studio and are trying to figure out how to maintain their success (Viral).
It will remain to be seen what Warner Bros. and each show does AFTER they debut. Will they use social media and other web applications to allow fans of shows to develop communities? Will they seek out content contributions from their audience? Will the audience create content anyway? We can only wait and see.