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Not quite, but we’re inching closer. Reading a great post on Tubefilter a few days ago I had the distinct sense of what it feels like to be in the last stages of a roller coaster climb, before roaring down the other side. Hulu, the online distribution channel created through joint venture by Fox, NBC and ABC in 2007, has entered the original online content market. Until now Hulu has run shows that first appeared on TV and syndicated hosting through other sites, but has had no feasible revenue model.

Episodic series’ created expressly for the internet have been around for the best part of the last decade and some have achieved phenomenal audience and ancillary success (see my earlier post) but unlike traditional broadcast media, there’s no standard formula for financing their production. Some of the more successful series have secured sponsorship once they’ve been able to prove they have an audience that’s worth something, but there are hardly a plethora of brands lining up to come on board an unproven property (see article on BusinessWeek). Some web series are financed through government agencies’ digital media funds, but many are a labour of love for their impassioned creators.

Hungry for the kind of audience reach pre-digital TV and press achieved, brands have been dipping into online offerings for some time now. For the most part though, what’s been available to them are attempts at replicating the qualities of old media and transferring them directly to the new – a bit like adapting a book for the screen by photographing its pages and broadcasting those images.

Hulu is a product of traditional old school respectable media, and its foray into ‘made for web’ content marks a turning point towards legitimacy for web series, at least for the perception of them by brands. Hulu is a trusted distribution channel, and trust is a valuable commodity in a noisy, crowded space.

As a content creator, getting your material distributed through traditional broadcast channels can sometimes feel like squeezing through the eye of  a needle.

It actually is like that.

When a mainstream player announces they are investing in an indie scene, it gives that scene some business credibility and suggests to other conservative mainstream players that the crowd is not so bad. Or weird. Or only to be approached with a can of Glen 20 in hand. And for content creators in the crowd that’s got to be good, right?

Right?

No doubt, more will definitely be revealed.

In the meantime, the trailer for Hulu’s new web series seems a very appropriate conclusion for this post, and if you’re interested in checking out what KCDC’s doing in the content world, click through and take a look.

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  1. By Knock knock « Kelly Chapman's Blog on 20 Feb 2010 at 1:53 pm

    […] Kelly Chapman's Blog An expression of one transmedia producer's thoughts About « Are We There Yet? […]

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