The Little Big Screen: The End of TV

13 Oct

Last week – the top tv show in America was supposedly Dancing with the Stars.  It’s highest number of views is estimated at 13 million viewers.   When DWTS has a new line up it’s news.  Be it Bristol Palin or the Hoff … DWTS is news in and of itself.  With a cast of top celebrities and news makers, million dollar sets, crews of 100+ Dancing with the Stars is the top viewed show in America.  Or… at least that’s what network television wants you to think.  I mean, after all, 13 million viewers can’t be wrong right?

Annoying Orange

But… what if I told you that… it’s small potatoes.   That even if you took the highest rated episode of Dancing with the Stars… and replayed it… 4 times…  with it’s max audience glued to the set… It wouldn’t even come close to a small second rate web show shot in someone’s kitchen for probably all of $100.  So that makes DWTS small oranges.  Oh,yeah  I forgot to mention…  the show’s about a talking orange.

Yeah… that’s right.  It’s a talking orange. Specifically… an Annoying Orange.  An Annoying Orange that harasses other fruit – like his buddy Apple, or his other buddy Pear.  Try selling that one as the top rated show in America.  Scary part is… it is.  The most recent episode of Annoying Orange had over 35,000,000 views.  And it’s not unusual for an episode to hit 65 million views.  That makes Dancing with the Stars 13 million viewers not even in the same ball park.  image

In fact, Dancing with the Stars – the highest rated TV show in America  – wouldn’t even score in the top 5 web shows out there according to Mashable – who provide a monthly report on such things.  Based on August’s numbers, it would be –# 7  in popularity – right behind the “Happy Tree Friends” an ultra violent show about innocent cartoon animals.   In a world where eyeballs (views) are king – Dancing with the Stars is an anemic cousin to most shows on the web.  On a show by show basis, it barely touches the infamy and fanatical viewing devotion of say, Red vs. Blue or The Guild. image

Red vs. Blue began as a humorous satire of the video game Halo, and has now branched off into even being included as a regular part of the game’s promotion efforts, even going so far as to be a part of the full length animated feature film, and now it’s successful spin-off live action series “RT Shorts” about it’s own series creators Rooster Teeth’s real world antics.  This I something that American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Lost and the best of the non-internet TV series hope for but seldom do well.  Mocking the success of TV these shows have pulled off a feet none of the network shows have done.  They’ve gone mobile and function well on TV, Mobile Phones, Tablet systems – in effect mobbed out of their little internet screens and into the palms – and eyes – imageof viewers on every viewing platform. 

The Guild, with it’s show, has spun off into top rated music videos, and even now support it’s own comic book.  Rumors abound about a live action cartoon, and even a full length film based on the imagecharacters.  Which probably explains why Felicia Day smiles all the time.   Afterall, her other Webshow  – Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog got an Emmy. 

In fact, Dr. Horrible – directed and produced by Joss Whedon, and staring big names – became a major slap in the face to network TV, Film and the entire entertainment industry – even if it didn’t mean to.  It showed that for a few dollars really high quality work could be done independently of any studio, network or programming group.   Hollywood took notice, and still does.  It’s been trying in various ways to replicate and understand Internet content in earnest ever since with mixed results.

So if Internet has killed the TV star why haven’t you heard of these shows?  Simple.  “Views” don’t translate into “viewers”.  Annoying Orange may have 65,332,222 views for August (it really did) but how many of those views were the same person watching it 10 or 15 times?  So the “actual viewers” of these shows isn’t really 65,000,000 viewers – it’s 65 million views.  Which advertisers and those who pay for network tv know is something they don’t fully understand yet, but want to.  Let’s face it Happy Tree Friends is brought to you by… Glad Trash bags.  There’s a bit of irony there.

This year, for the first time ever, the majority of people in the “money demographic” will view more content online – on the internet – than on network television.  And it’s not all shows like these, main stream tv shows are available of course through Hulu and other links, Netflix, Zune, iTunes.  And this has television more than a little nervous.  Our TV, the little screen that spelled the death of movies, now has serious competition from the littler screen, the web.  In marketing “eyeballs” are power.  They’re the bread and butter of advertising and that drives television. 

The real demand for this kind of entertainment isn’t known yet.  There are a lot of variables.  For example when Happy Tree Friends became a “tv” show for a while there it flopped.  Most of the shows popular on the web wouldn’t work on standard tv – they’d die an unholy death of ridicule and obscurity.  But here, on the web – they have power.

In time, once the “power” of these shows really becomes known by advertisers it may very well be that Internet will finally end TV as we know it.  So I’m delving into what directions this may take us – and what we can look forward to lately.  I’ll let you know what I find out.

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Posted by on October 13, 2010 in Future, Internet, media, video


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