Web series – a safe haven for newbie genre shows?

As SciFi shows continue to struggle for survival on cable and network TV, I’ve been thinking more and more about the role the internet is playing in shaping the future of SciFi entertainment. I’ve heard some commentators speculate that we geeks are part of the reasons on air shows are failing. We prefer to watch our favorite shows at a time of our own choosing and we’re tech savvy enough to do so.  That hurts on air advertising sales which are apparently still the main source of revenue.  Good shows are often gone before they can develop an on air audience. So what are we to do?

Web as Incubator
I’m sure at some point in the future we will all be watching content created expressly for online viewing, but in the mean time the pickings for web series seem slim and poor production quality can be a problem. On the other hand there have been some amazing web series in the last five years, some of which have been picked up by mainstream media. Sanctuary lasted several seasons on SyFy after getting its start online. Just recently, SyFy picked up Riese: Kingdom Falling. (Not a fan BTW – great production quality, but weak story and character development, IMHO) I guess this model gives a show the chance to develop a following before it goes mainstream. That should increase its odds of it getting the ratings it would need to survive in the spotlight.

Straight to Disk
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog proved that with enough star power and savvy marketing a series (or at least a mini-series) can do okay without ever going to mainstream. The three-part SciFi musical comedy was originally released free online and later moved to a sales model through pay downloads, DVDs, and BluRay.

Over Turn
For me, though, the big problem has been that I never seem to hear about these things until after they go big. That’s why I was pleased to hear about a new series starting next month before it goes live. The people behind the new series, Over Turn, are promoting it pretty hard. They are calling it dramatic mystery, with a the tag line: your deepest secret is hidden in your dreams. Aside from the dreams mention, they seem to be keeping the SciFi/supernatural/psychological element under wraps. Well I love suspense and I love dark. From the trailer it looks to have both in spades. As long as the violence doesn’t get gratuitous it could be something I could get into. It premieres February 16 and until then I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

So, have you been following any web series? If so, which ones? If not, why not?

10 thoughts on “Web series – a safe haven for newbie genre shows?

  1. I’ve never heard of “Riese: kingdom falling” or “Overturn.” I just checked out the preview for “Overturn”, but it was pretty short. What channel is it going to be on? Sy Fy?

    I don’t watch webseries, I guess I just prefer to watch shows on my actual television. But I am also not a youtube person. I’ll watch a video if someone recommends it (like your previous death star canteen post) but I don’t go to the site just to browse. I already visit enough sites & waste WAAAAAAAAAY too much time on the internet as it is! =P

    • Riese was recently picked up by SyFy. It is supposed to be a stempunck thing but other than having the asthetic, I don’t get how it is steampunk. Seems more epic fantasy to me.

      Overturn hasn’t started yet and will start out on the web.

      I think of Youtube as a resource. I go there when I’m looking for something specific. I never browse there – seems like that would be a crazy time suck.

  2. Interesting. I have noted that the BBC show “Being Human” has just been redone for audiences in the US with new actors.

    While I enjoyed the British version–especially the sexy vampire–sometimes I just didn’t connect with the characters or situations.

    It’s going to start on the Sci-Fi channel next week.

    To survive the work week, I have to go to bed at 9:00 PM, so I can’t watch, but they always have reruns. (No, I don’t have a way to record it.)

    • I think I saw that Being Human launches the US version tomorrow. Many, many shows go from BBC to the US and are remade to me more Americanized. Not sure why they think we can’t enjoy UK made stuff. I recently discovered Wire in The Blood on hulu.com–an older UK series about a lady police detective and male psychologist who studies serial killers and helps her solves crime on the side. Dark and twisted at times, but fab-u-wonderful. Would lose so much if reworked for the US.

  3. I don’t have cable. Heck, I barely get regular tv where I am. I have to rely on my husband who lives 300 miles away to tell me what’s hot. That’s how I learned about the Walking Dead.

    • Confession time! Me – the genre media junkie – is surviving on the internet and basic cable. LOL. I don’t get Syfy or Showtime of HBO. I often miss out on some good stuff or have to wait for online releases. Last season I did Apple itunes downloads of The Walking Dead. I try to avoid paying for downloads but, they snagged me with one free episode on hulu and I couldn’t not watch every episode. The downloads are usually about the same as renting on disk from a video rental place. Not bad. Still not something I can do for just any show.

  4. No, I don’t follow, but with the demise of Soap Operas, some former soap creators/actors and producers and doing the same thing – genre driven web casts. It’s an interesting concept, but I suspect the popular appeal is five-ten years down the road.

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