Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “Looking to strike Internet gold, a web video startup decides to focus on…comedy.”
Anyone? Anyone? (tap, tap) This thing still on?
“We have direct access to talent,” says Marc Campbell, ICN founder and CEO. “We own a comedy venue in Santa Monica.” Campbell believes that through its “comedy theater,” Westside Eclectic, ICN will be able to showcase up-and-coming talent before they make it big. And ICN is putting that talent to work with a planned slate of 40 new shows, including the first batch of five, out now:
2/8 Life is a spoof of quarterlife.
Annals is mock history show.
Inappropriate Workplace provides the office comedy.
Plea Bargain Advertising follows two hapless guys who inherit an ad agency.
Warthog is an apocalyptic take on business as usual.
Each show will release new episodes weekly for five weeks. After that, ICN has another five series ready to go.
ICN, which has received “less than $5 million” in angel funding, has distribution deals with 15 different partners including YouTube, MySpace, and Joost. ICN will split any ad revenue earned with the shows’ creators; it also has a stake in each property, so if the show makes the leap to TV or film, ICN will reap some of the rewards.
But with so many comedians vying for the same people, rewards might be hard to come by. Funny or Die has star power, College Humor is laser-focused and immensely popular with the younger demographic, and just-launched 60Frames has similar connections to talent through UTA. Not to mention Atom (disclosure: where I used to work before NewTeeVee), My Damn Channel, Super Deluxe…need I go on?
But Campbell is undaunted by the crowded market. “That doesn’t mean that it’s crowded with really good stuff, and not very good episodic stuff,” he says. Who knows, maybe ICN will have the last laugh. Maybe they should call themselves…the Aristocrats!