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MacFarlane More Fierce Than Models

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It’s a battle between two of the biggest attractions in web video: hot chicks vs. frat-boy humor. Model.Live and Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Comedy, both high-profile and expensive web series, launched last month and earlier this week, respectively. But already, the frat boys are winning.

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A recent press release lauded the fact that Vogue.TV’s Model.Live has topped a million plays since its Aug. 19th launch. The series about three models trying to make it in the world of fashion was notable mainly for its expense, costing $3 million to produce the 14 episodes, and coughed up a “low seven figures” to be the series’ lead sponsor. Model.Live can be found on Vogue.TV and is syndicated to Bebo (a partner in the series) and video sites such as Veoh and Hulu (though as of this morning, the show can’t be found there).

Seth MacFarlane’s new animated Cavalcade of Comedy series debuted earlier this week. While there are no exact figures available as to the amount money spent on the series, The New York Times claimed it was “by far the largest amount spent on original Internet content to date.” In the little over two days since its launch, however, the first two episodes of the projected 50-episode series racked up more than 2.6 million plays. The initial 10 episodes of the series being sponsored by Burger King can be found on MacFarlane’s site as well as on two channels on YouTube; they’re also being distributed via Google AdSense.

For those keeping score that’s:
Models: 1 million plays in three weeks.
MacFarlane: 2.6 million plays in three days.

It’s not entirely fair to try and make an apples-to-apples comparison. MacFarlane can ride on the coattails of his TV show Family Guy, clips of which have always proven quite popular on the web, plus animation and comedy are two of the more popular forms of web video entertainment. Cavalcade was tailor made for MacFarlane fans, the episodes are short, crude, funny and easy to pass along to friends — and lets be honest, it’s basically Family Guy without Peter Griffin and crew.

Vogue is going for a completely different audience, targeting “young fashionistas,” according to The Wall Street Journal. The series has built a channel on the Bebo social network, and while it has distribution partners, the syndication scheme is not as widespread as slotting it into AdSense. It’s more of a laser to MacFarlane’s shotgun.

But the two invite comparison because they both cost so much in this low-budget world of web video. Was it worth it? Early reports seem to indicate Cavalcade was money well-spent for Burger King. But with just eight more episodes to go, those models better start working that cat-walk to keep up with the frat boys.

3 Responses to “MacFarlane More Fierce Than Models

  1. According to screenwriting guru Robert McKee, When ever there is a technological advance in entertainment “spectacle” come first then “story.”

    As for Internet Video, right now we are still in a time of spectacle and slowly transitioning into story.

    I think there are several factors here that are adding to more video views for Seth MacFarlane’s new animated Cavalcade of Comedy series:

    1. It has emotionally compelling content and spectacle with a little bit of story and little time investment for the viewer.

    2. It has a solid marketing and promotional plan that is being flawlessly executed.

    3. It is using the power of Google Ad Sense / Google Gadget Ads to advertise the show with co-branded Burger King ads. (Visit my blog for more on this )

    Vogue.TV’s Model.Live on the other hand is a story with a little spectacle and no fast emotional connection. As a viewer I have to invest time to get into it and Internet viewers don’t want to do that just yet.

    Another thing is that Vogue.TV’s Model.Live feels like a show I can get on regular TV and even though Cavalcade of Comedy feels like Family Guy it doesn’t feel like any other regular TV show. It’s “Internet Special.”

    We are still in the early hours of this online video party and our guests are enjoying the appetizers or “video snacks.” They are not yet ready to sit down and enjoy a full course meal but the fact that Vogue.TV’s Model.Live has had over a million views may suggest that some people are starting to sit down for video dinner.