I’ll Take That TV Deal, Please!

Written by Daisy Whitney

There is a sense among the web video cognoscenti that you’re a sell-out if you aspire to make the leap from the web to TV. It’s the same mentality that dictates it’s hipper to only follow indie music than to admit you might like a tune from — gasp — top 40 radio.

Indeed, the possibility of crossing over from the web to the tube is perhaps one of the most divisive issues in the tight-knit web video community.

Brent Friedman, executive producer of the web series Gemini Division, told NewTeeVee that he deliberately aspired not to create a TV property. On the other hand, there are creators like Yuri Baranovsky of Break a Leg, who freely admitted at last week’s NATPE Los Angeles TV Festival that he views his web show as a “calling card” for a future TV writing gig.

But I especially notice this prickly subject of whether to cross over or not in the comments section for stories I write for TVWeek. When earlier this week I wrote about how I wanted the episodes for the new web show That Media Show to be embedded on the show’s home page (a change the show’s creator made about an hour later), I was chastised for being too “TV-centric.” The poster “TVguy” wrote: “So what you are saying is that you want it more like TV? Get out of your TV way of thinking.”

Web executives too are quick to point out they don’t aim to be traditional TV networks. Jim Louderback CEO of Revision3 responded to a recent column with this: “I think the focus on turning a web show into a television hit is misguided. They are different mediums, and if you keep your eye on the old media prize, you’ll by design be less successful with Internet video.”

A poster named John Hays added: “Why try to port backwards to an older medium?” I followed up with Hays via phone and he explained that he simply meant he doesn’t want to see web shows vacate the web for TV. But if they jump to TV and stay on the web, that’s ideal.

Because nothing can amass an audience like TV. Sorry to say, but it’s true. And unless they’re Gary Vaynerchuk or Kevin Rose — because those guys don’t need the money — I don’t believe it when a web star says s/he isn’t interested and wouldn’t even consider TV.

That’s because traditional TV still has a bigger audience, bigger money, bigger everything. And like it or not, that’s still what most creators want.

So you know what I think web stars and shows should do? Tap into those TV coffers to their advantage. If a network is hot for you, grab that cash and use it to demonstrate to a much wider audience that there is awesome stuff originating online.

Web shows should court TV networks and TV networks should woo web stars. The more the two mediums tangle, the more quickly advertisers will funnel financial support into web video.

Daisy Whitney is a contributing writer with TelevisionWeek and the host of the New Media Minute, a weekly webcast on the business of online video.

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