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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Television is the New Television

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by this person are highly uninformed and courageously out of date. I am neither a knowledgeable person, nor a person of knowledge, and I would never claim to know the difference between the two. Nor am I knowledgeable about the world of web series, not today, tomorrow, or probably into next week. Honestly, I could probably spend the next eight hundred weekends studying the world of the web series and would come out in no better position of understanding then than now. Why? Because I'm an idiot. I'm not a complete idiot, but I'm mostly idiot. I have more idiot in me than not idiot, so my days of being an authority on anything other than what's in my many storage boxes never began. As a creator of a web series (Hold For Release) myself, I guess you could say I'm just another majority idiot working in the world of web series. Is that anything to brag about? Of course not. Idiots have had a place in Television for as long as I've been watching my box- for many years, they were the ones programming it. And as is the case in most arenas of life, the smart people eventually will force out the idiots and I think that's what's happening in Television over the last couple decades, because let's face it- it was really bad for many years. And now, it's not so bad if you know where to look.

Which leads us back to web series. As a web series outsider, I'd say that it's mostly pretty bad, but like any Art, there's brilliance if you know where to look. And in ten years, more smart people will be in web series, and just as they did in Television, they will push us idiots to the fringe of whatever Television will be in the future. What will it be? Well, I think any decent idiot will tell you it will be what it is now, only different. If you wiki Television, you'll see way down at the bottom the section "Internet Television"- that, that right there, that'll be a much bigger section. More words, you could say. Because one thing I'm pretty sure of is that Television, Big Television- the networks and the Netflix and the Net money- will always go where the audience is. So if you think the web series landscape is crowded now, just you wait.

At conferences I've never attended and in matter-of-fact conversations I've never participated in, the consensus seems to be if you can't bring a hundred thousand views and ten thousand followers to the table, you can forget it. The chances of monetizing that web series you can kiss goodbye. Well, that sounds like Television, only worse. A complete disaster scenario for a social media Philistine like myself. Some people have compared the rise of the web series over the last decade to the early years of New York based Live Television. This is an inspirational comparison for myself because my grandfather, Fred Coe, rose quickly through the ranks of NBC to produce some of the finest moments in that era like the original broadcast of Marty on Philco Television Playhouse. But the party didn't last in New York, with live television, anyway. The money, the big money started calling the shots. Television left New York and the Golden Age ended.

So, whether the early television comparison goes any deeper than the idea that generally people want to be a part of something new and fresh, part of a Golden Age, I'll leave it to the smart people to decide. But I think it's clear the honeymoon is almost over and there's nothing quite innovative about making a web series at this point- it's simply a perfectly plausible reflection of the evolving media landscape. A remarkably accurate and understandable answer to where people spend their time. Television is the new Television- wiki is just a little slow on this one. But let's argue we are still in the last days of the Golden Age of web series- then I say, as one idiot to the next, let's enjoy it. There really is some great shows out there in the world of web series. Maybe the next Marty is streaming on You Tube right now. And when someone asks you "what do you feel like doing tonight?", put down your smart phone for a second and tell them, I'm already doing it, you idiot- I'm watching TV.


  1. I would like to thank you for writing our space's obituary. You're right, indie web series' are doomed. We shouldn't exist with the big boys coming and spending oodles of money. Making shows independently does indeed make me and the rest of the indie creators out there "idiots" and money makes one "smart". And because you have pointed this out in such a longwinded manner, I will do my part by deleting all of my videos, returning all of the money I made in profit for 2 of my indie series' and erasing the 5 million views and 8000 subscribers I've accumulated over the years on my various shows. Thank you oh industry expert for making me see the light.

    P.S. Do you think I should kill myself?

  2. In 20 years we may not have either cable TV or broadcast TV. All content will be delivered over the internet. So does that make TV = Web series. That would depend on your perspective. If you think all that is important is a change in the "pipe" you could argue yes. But this would largely miss the point. The Web is a new medium, a medium .that we have only begun to explore. Web series have often pioneered the exploration of the medium and hopefully that will continue. That does not mean that "classic TV" has ignored the medium. They are quickly learning key element such as social media. However they rarely have the freedom to explore all aspects of the medium as Web series do. Hence we look to Web series to experiment. They have the potential to be the brave new frontier. However that will not happen as long as Web series creators think of the medium as TV. In fact that is counter productive. On the contrary, Web series creators should learn to "live on the Web". Become digital natives. Experiment and explore. That is where Web series began and that is how we can develop the medium to its full potential.

  3. I'm just saying experimentation is beautiful and integral to the web series medium and I can envision a future where it is further marginalized as money flows in. But it will always be there because we are making art after all.

  4. Like any new medium its impact will continue to be felt until it has been fully utilized by those who understand its potential. We have only just begun. This is the beginning rather than the end of an era. As for traditional TV, it will continue to learn from the advances made by Web series and at some point those shows may even innovate. But we have a long long way to go and we are only held back by our attachments to past concepts of how things should be done.

  5. Agreed. Reminds me of Quentin saying projecting blu-rays in movie theaters is just TV on a larger scale.

  6. The transition to the Web is potentially the biggest game changer ever to hit the World of entertainment. The medium is still relatively unexplored so we have no idea what to expect in the future........other than it will be awesome.........and like any new medium it will bring with it new and exciting creators who truly understand its potential. Those who get stuck in the old TV paradigm will become the dinosaurs of this new and exciting era.


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