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?