Fans of Project Runway were happy to see the series continue, if on a new network, when the Lifetime network managed to wrangle the show away from Bravo. And now the network has announced that “ProRun” will be made available for free, with ads, online, something that was suggested — nay, demanded — right here over a year ago.
Like similar reality shows, including Top Chef, there’s so much product placement in Product Runway that the more people viewing it in any medium is simply more value for advertisers. But cable networks have been less willing than broadcast networks to put stuff online out of the fear it would endanger carriage fee revenue paid by cable and satellite television providers, though this is not the first show Lifetime is offering in full episode form online. (Lifetime uses Brightcove for video, but disables embedding — still progress!)
Not that Runway has any trouble attracting revenue, with L’Oreal Paris and Garnier sponsoring a tie-in sweepstakes on the web site and as many as 100 sponsor mentions or more in a typical episode, by our count. The network is also smartly pulling in catty comments live from Twitter and Facebook for the “Buzz Room” site — driving fan engagement and smartly playing up the most enjoyable part of the show, which is snarking with your friends over the inevitable hot mess contestants and their outfits.
It’s unclear what role the Weinstein Co., which produces the show, played in the decision. The company is reportedly in a mess financially, having laid off dozens of employees late last year and hiring a firm to restructure its debt in the hopes of helping cash flow. While those in the know say that the company is placing its bets on the success of Quentin Tarantino’s Nazi-torture-porn flick Inglourious Basterds, if The Kluminator can find more fans online, she might be able to help save the day.
After all, why pay Showtime to air your movies when you can post them to YouTube for free?