FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Web Clips are the New Reality TV

Increasingly, web video clips of the type found on iFilm and Channel101.com are turning up on TV. Aside from being slipped in on "wacky news" segments on network and cable news shows, funny, viral clips are now the stars of their own TV shows, like Bravo's Outrageous and Contagious and VH1's Web Junk 20. NBC is reportedly developing a similar prime time show hosted by Carson Daly, and Saturday Night Live is developing its own web content with its Digital Shorts, which are available via iTunes.

Like reality TV, shows based on web clips are appealing to TV programmers because they're cheap to acquire and produce. Many are homemade, but others are (frequently embarrassing) outtakes of other TV shows and commercials -- either way, they are grainy, raw and honest. In a sense, putting web clips on TV is the logical extension of shows like America's Funniest Home Video and Real TV, which were innovations when they first appeared in the early '90s. Web clips, though, are different in that, instead of being originally vetted by the TV networks, they have made the rounds on the Internet, where the clips with the most edge and weirdness become the most viral. Instead of TV being the starting point for these clips, it is the end point.

That said, can TV really make a go out of shows based on web clips? Although many of the clips are irresistible, will people (especially young people) watch them and simply say, "I've seen these before..." and change the channel?

RELATED: MediaShift has an interview with Chad Hurley, CEO of YouTube, who says that his video-sharing site represents "the next-generation platform for serving media worldwide."

Sources: Boston.com, unmediated