Web Video: Move Over, Amateurs

I read an article today in BusinessWeek by Catherine Holahan titled, “Web Video: Move Over, Amateurs” that claims that “as more professionally produced content finds a home online, user-generated video becomes less alluring to viewers—and advertisers,” and while this may be true, in part, and certainly makes pundits like Andrew Keen (author of The Cult of the Amateur) happy, I think that no matter how you slice it, the rules will be different with internet video and there are still many opportunities yet to be explored and user generated content ((I’m not thrilled with the term user generated content, in spite of Keen’s demonization of the term, Amateur, as in someone who does something out of love rather than money, is a apt term, but I digress…)) is here to stay. Of course this article follows on the coat tails of the premiere of “Quarterlife,” the new made for internet episodic from Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, the creative team behind “My So-Called Life” and “thirtysomething.” There are several aspects of “Quarterlife” that I find particularly interesting in terms of the change that’s going on in the media industry: first, the show sets a new standard for web video with network-television production values, second: the storytelling and acting is better than 98% of network television, and third, the show is owned and controlled by its creators. This is old media reinventing itself with a new set of rules. Just as “thirtysomething” raised the standard for production values and storytelling in episodic television, I think “Quarterlife” will do the same for fictional internet video. If “Quarterlife” draws in an enthusiastic audience and generous advertising revenue, it could be among the first proof points that it’s possible to produce a financially viable fictional episodic on the web.


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