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Summary:

It’s been common for web series to never make it past a first season. But this year, there are four notable examples of shows continuing their runs, from independent teen dramedies to Jerry Seinfeld chatting with comics.

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After years of watching online video, something I’d gotten used to is this: Web series that never went beyond a first season. Certainly, notable examples like The Guild EDIT: and Anyone But Me exist, but on the whole many great concepts and series have petered out after the Season 1 finale.

The reasons always vary, from the creators getting higher-profile work to the creators simply not having any more money. Which is why it’s been exciting to see, over the last two months, a number of web series that announced plans for second seasons in 2013, ranging from independent productions to studio-sponsored shows.

Burning Love

Produced by Paramount and Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Digital for Yahoo, Burning Love was already a lot of fun — the dead-on Bachelor parody had an incredible cast, including Rob Marino, Michael Ian Black, Adam Scott, Malin Ackerman, Kristin Bell, and Ken Jeong.

It’s the sort of fun lark you’d expect to peter out after Season 1, especially because everyone involved has plenty of other stuff going on — so, when Marino revealed that a Season 2 and 3 were in the works, it was a delightful surprise.

Season 2, in classic Bachelor tradition, will feature an unsuccessful lady from the first season as a bachelorette being courted by suitors like Michael Cera, Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer, Kumail Nanjiani and Jerry O’Connell.

Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee

Possibly the most chill web series of 2012, Jerry Seinfeld’s interests in cars, coffee and other comedians collided in this Crackle series. According to The New York Times, the 10-episode first season, which featured comedy greats including Larry David, Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks, brought more than 10 million unique visitors to Crackle, and will be followed up by 24 new episodes.

While those first 10 episodes were ad-free, the big change for season two will be trying to solve that whole “making money with it” dilemma. “This next go-round we’re going to have to figure out some sort of revenue stream, so it makes more sense,” Seinfeld told the Times. With Seinfeld’s pedigree and the first season’s success, they should have some luck with it.

Squaresville

Matt Enlow’s teen dramedy, starring Mary-Kate Wiles and Kylie Sparks, initially funded its first season with Kickstarter and later partnered with Big Frame for production support. The series has an active social media presence, including Twitter and Tumblr, but one question they’d been very quiet on was where plans for a second season stood.

Until last month, that is, when Enlow and Wiles took to YouTube to announce that a second season had in fact been shot and would be coming out early 2013.

Viewcounts for Squaresville‘s first season ranged in the solid five figures, but more importantly the show took home three trophies from the IAWTV Awards earlier this month: Best Writing, Best Ensemble Cast, and Best Comedy Series. Season 2, therefore, should attract some attention.

Video Game High School

Season 1 of Brandon Laatsch and Freddie Wong’s video game comedy series not only helped launch the Rocket Jump platform, but racked up 31.5 million views in its first month online.

For the second season, the VGHS team has turned once again to Kickstarter, using their first season campaign as a model and asking for $636,010, the exact cost of the first season (which Wong recently revealed in infographic form).

The second season format, according to Kickstarter, will be six “TV-length” episodes with a total runtime of 160-180 minutes. Most intriguingly, they’re offering “stretch” goals should they exceed their funding, including — at the $1,000,000 level — a limited theatrical distribution.

It’s not so much that 2013 is the year of the second season, but more the year of more web series becoming sustainable. And each success story is a positive sign for the web video space.

  1. Thanks for this encouraging article, Liz. I especially like your final words about webseries becoming sustainable. “Anyone But Me” as you know just concluded 3 seasons at a time when most shows don’t make it past 1. We’re proud to be an example of what it means to put all your best efforts and passion into a piece of work in this (or any) medium by being consistent and committed. And in it for the long haul! Long live webseries!!

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  2. Christopher Kubasik Sunday, January 20, 2013

    I’m sure others will add in on this, and I’m aware there are so many shows it’s difficult to track. But off the top of my head:

    The series “Anyone But Me” has had three seasons.

    And my series, “The Booth at the End,” streamed its second season on Hulu last Summer. (And we won two IAWTV award along with Squarville’s three awards: one for Best Writing (Drama) and one for Best Male Lead (Drama).)

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    1. I really wanted to make this piece about looking forward at the growing trend of high profile projects getting additional seasons, but I have added a mention of “Anyone But Me” to the lede to acknowledge that many shows in the past have gotten to that level.

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  3. Big year ahead for web series, we are starting to see bigger and bigger names get into the space and Kickstarter has been huge for the emerging space. Great article Shannon!

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  4. Love this article, Liz.

    The industry is growing fast and the quality is, in many cases, as good as you’ll find on HBO. I was at IAWTV awards this year and saw first-hand how much this industry is bootstrapping itself towards greatness. Totally humbling. We’re building boomtrain to help propel these talented actors, writers and producers onto everyone’s screen and we’re proud to be a small part of something big.

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  5. Long before YouTube recognized the value in web series, and long before Blip recognized the importance and value in web series, and long before Yahoo, AOL and the rest of the follow-on’s woke up to web series, an innovative startup network in Orange County, CA recognized their importance in the changing landscape of television. Seven years ago KoldCast TV, an online television network, emerged with a singularly-focussed product – web series – at a time when no other distribution platform was wise enough to distribute and feature these Shows front and center on their sites. KoldCast TV pioneered the distribution and promotion of web series as one of television’s true art forms. Over the course of these seven years, we’ve seen increasing numbers of web series capable of financing and producing second seasons, and in some case, third, fourth and fifth seasons. In addition to numerous series, currently in our programming lineup, which have second seasons in production or are merely awaiting their premieres on KoldCast, here are “just a few more” notable examples of shows which have, or are, continuing their runs: Clutch, Malice, Ruby Skye P.I., Super Knocked Up, Thurston, Haywire, 2012, Miss Behave, Orange Juice in Bishop’s Garden, MacAwesome, and Kole’s Law. The year of the web series second season started in 2012, and 2013 and beyond will pervasively highlight the fact that web series are now and forever part of television. And, once brand advertisers finally catch on, watch out!

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  6. Great article Liz! Thanks so much for spotlighting web series and their creators! I’m so proud to be part of this community and am thrilled we’re about to premiere Season 2 of my action/comedy series Super Knocked Up. People like you supporting and writing about web series is exactly what we need, so thanks! And thanks to David Samuels for the Super Knocked Up shout-out and to KoldCast TV for proving an amazing place for web series to shine :)

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  7. You left Brad Bell’s and Jane Espenson’s amazing Husbands off the list.

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  8. Dennis M. Francis Wednesday, February 20, 2013

    I’ve been saying for years that most TV pilots should start as Web shows and run for at least a season. It can be far more economical and scaleable this way. Now that most people can afford to watch shows on their other entertainment devices, it might be the practical way for networks to break out of the “reality show” economics of entertainment.

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