The article “Original Web Video Still A Bust” by Dan Fromer really made me smile. Web video – not year five years old – has not yet replaced programming from the major networks and studios. Who’d have thought!
It’s not like the early days of cable. Where articles written “Original Cable programming still a bust” in the mid 70’s and the very early days of Community Antenna/Access TV, the precursor to modern cable. It took more than 20 years of cable, and more than 10 years of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which is when modern cable really started to take off before we got Mad Men or Breaking Bad or any of the current crop of high quality drama and comedy now available on cable.
We are much further advanced with Internet TV than we were at an equivalent stage of development for cable. Product equipment is much cheaper and much more accessible compared to limited access to a studio provided by the cable network as a condition of their franchise on a city. One studio that was a limited asset. Nowdays, pretty much anyone with an idea can create it. I’ve interviewed guests who made movies for under $500. Matthew Winer (in the Spring edition of Produced by magazine from the Producer’s Guild) says that he made his first film for $20,000.
But like cable the growth to quality programming will be slow and gradual. It won’t take 10 or 20 years but I do expect that it will be five to ten years before we get million dollar budget for programs specifically for Internet distribution. The numbers do add up if the distribution channels are handled right. (Hint: it won’t be advertising supporting it this time round, at least not in the annoying intrusive formats we’ve seen on television.)
So, it’s a little premature to say that original web video is a “bust” just yet. Get back to me in 2020 and I’ll be very surprised if we don’t have a vibrant new media creating great drama, comedy and other formats we haven’t seen yet for Internet distribution that is viewed primarily on TV screens (however the big set in the corner evolves).