MySpace announced tonight (via email) it is teaming with the FOX network and the Producers Guild of America to seek out television pilots. The partnership could provide a shortcut straight to OldTeeVee, with a promised “opportunity for a development deal with FOX” as well as $25,000 for the two winning entries. The so-called “Storyteller Challenge,” starting September 4, will ask for 5- to 7-minute television pilots to be submitted and voted on through MySpace.
Interpretations of the move vary. TechCrunch calls it an effort to replicate Prom Queen and compete with Sony’s recently relaunched Crackle. paidContent calls it an attempt to differentiate from Facebook. Variety notes,
Fox summer skein “On the Lot,” which aimed to find a theatrical director through an on-air contest, with judges commenting on work, flopped in the ratings. But News Corp. hopes the contest will be better suited to online medium than an hourlong primetime show.
The truth is, MySpace (and any other popular social network) is a great medium for building audiences for shows, especially online shows where maintaining character profiles and such comes naturally. And while the web is growing saturated with online video contests, this one still offers enough exposure, moolah, and chance for a deal to turn a few heads. However, bringing a show out of its web pilot and onto TV is a shaky proposition.
MySpace has been ramping up its video efforts; it recently launched MySpace TV as well as a minisodes network of old television. It is also, of course, involved in the joint “NewCo” deal between its parent News Corp and NBC. Yesterday we made mention of a CNET story that claimed MySpace was paying some $400,000 per episode of an upcoming show called QuarterLife. MySpace denied the story, and we haven’t seen confirmation of it elsewhere.