×

Online viewing options abound

Video can play key role in program marketing

In the early days of television, it was all about appointment TV: People could watch shows only at the time they were broadcast. In the late ’70s, the advent of the VCR allowed viewers to record programs and watch them later, but only the most committed TV geeks bothered to do so.

Fast forward to today, and a brave new world of viewing and re-viewing opportunities. Most cable-based series run their shows multiple times. Fans can program DirecTV via their iPhone to record individual episodes or entire series by DVR. Many new TVs come equipped to stream Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.com, among others. Roku boxes and Apple TV allow access to an entire digital video library.

And with the practice known as cord-cutting, it’s also possible to ditch the TV altogether. Broadband’s ubiquity lets people watch shows on PCs, smartphones and iPads. Broadcasters’ websites, along with Hulu, Comcast-sponsored xFinity.tv and others let them watch (and re-watch) almost any show they want.

Recently, online ad network YuMe released a study conducted by research firm Magid Associates that suggests a marked increase in online video consumption just in the last year. The survey, which polled viewers between the ages of 13 and 54, showed that two-thirds of them were watching significantly more video online than during the previous year. Half of them thought that online video product was on par and in some cases superior to what they could see on their TVs.

YuMe exec Scot McLernon says the breakdown of the demographics in the survey mirrored that of traditional TV auds.

“We found it especially interesting that this shift is coming at a cost to television, and that half of those surveyed planned to make (online video) a part of their everyday viewing,” McLernon says. “I wonder if TV execs would consider using an online audience as a test bed for new shows.”

The broadcast nets are skittish about addressing the cord-cutting phenomenon, and declined Variety’s requests for comment. At pay cabler HBO, Michael Lombardo, president of original programming, does not think the growth of online video will affect series development or production, pointing out that online video has become an integral part in program marketing.

“Whether it be minisodes or character video blogs, we work very closely with the shows to produce original content that allows fans to further immerse themselves into the world of their favorite series,” he says.

The rise of online video, along with the Internet as a whole, may be a boon for showrunners. Damon Lindelof, co-creator and showrunner of the ABC series “Lost,” says his hit show probably would not have lasted if it could have been seen only on the air.

“Being able to do something that would be more serialized or complex in your storytelling probably would not exist were it not for the multiple ways to watch it, especially as far as the Internet is concerned,” Lindelof says. “These new media platforms enable you to be a bit more bravura in your storytelling.”

Moreover, Lindelof doesn’t see the advent of online video threatening traditional TV viewership. “As there are new and different ways to watch stuff,” he said, “it starts to seem that each of them is not necessarily always cannibalizing the other but that we’re moving into a world where they all kind of co-exist.”

More TV

  • Politicians and Petition Support BBC Following

    Politicians and Petition Support BBC Following Reports of Major Cuts

    A war of words around the future of the BBC continued on Monday amid reports of severe cutbacks to the U.K. public broadcaster. The Sunday Times reported over the weekend that Downing Street, the seat of the U.K. government, was planning to replace the annual BBC license fee with a subscription service; sell most of [...]

  • Stanley Tucci

    Stanley Tucci to Host BBC Radio 4 Series 'The Californian Century'

    Actor and filmmaker Stanley Tucci will front series “The Californian Century,” set to air on BBC Radio 4. Tucci will play a cynical screenwriter who narrates the stories of ten people who helped build California over the last 100 years. They include Francis Boggs, the first person to direct a full movie in California; Hattie [...]

  • Devils

    See Patrick Dempsey in First Trailer for Sky Italia, Lux Vide’s ‘Devils’

    Sky Italia has launched the first trailer for its highly anticipated thriller “Devils,” set to premiere in April on Sky. Produced by Lux Vide and Orange Studio with funding from Sky Studios, the series is distributed internationally by NBCUniversal Global Distribution. The trailer drops hot off the heels of news that Comcast-owned satellite TV operator [...]

  • Sharp Objects

    Entertainment One Commits to Drama: "Hasbro Bought the Business to Expand It"

    “Sharp Objects” and “Run” producer-distributor Entertainment One is reassuring partners of its commitment to drama following its acquisition by toy giant Hasbro. EOne has always cultivated a strong set of procedurals, such as ABC’s Nathan Fillion-starrer “The Rookie” and Fox’s Stephen Dorff-led “Deputy,” but has also gained traction with cable propositions such as HBO’s “Sharp [...]

  • Germany’s ZDF Enterprises, NDF Team to

    Germany’s ZDF Enterprises, NDF Team to Form FictionMagnet

    ZDF Enterprises, a division of German broadcasting powerhouse ZDF, has partnered with independent production outfit Neue Deutsche Filmgesellschaft (“Mountain Medic”), to form FictionMagnet Producktions. The new entity will develop and produce fictional TV formats for ZDF. NDF will hold 51% of the joint venture and ZDF 49%. The company will be based in Unterfohring and [...]

  • Homecoming

    'Homecoming' Showrunner Eli Horowitz to Head Series Mania UGC Writers Campus

    Eli Horowitz, creator and showrunner of the Julia Roberts-led Amazon series “Homecoming,” will be the president of the UGC Writers Campus at annual series showcase Series Mania. The Campus is a week-long writing workshop for emerging TV drama writers from Europe. Twenty screenwriters were chosen from more than 100 applicants. The workshop will be run [...]

  • duncanville

    'Duncanville' Starring Amy Poehler: TV Review

    Lovable dirtbag families have been the core of Fox’s Sunday “Animation Domination” lineup for years, a truth further underlined by the fact that its newest entry “Duncanville” comes from longtime “Simpsons” producers Mike and Julie Thacker Scully. Along with co-creator Amy Poehler, they’ve now made a show about a family more tied to the present [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content