As broadcasters continue to face eroding audiences, lousy programming, declining ratings, a lackluster fall line-up and pending changes in FCC rules regarding ‘localism‘; here comes another punch in the gut.
Joss Whedon of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly and the Serenity movie fame created a three part mini-musical (!) video netcast called “Dr. Horrible” that only lasted a few days and was born from the catalyst of the recent writer’s strike.
Once upon a time, all the writers in the forest got very mad with the Forest Kings and declared a work-stoppage.
Only one day after the three acts were pulled from the site (as per Joss’ schedule) the mini-netcast series wound up taking the top three slots in the TV Shows Download section on iTunes.
Broadcasters can only dream of creating this kind of succes because they have shown time and time again that they are scared to innovate.
It’s not just that Joss Whedon took some of his cash and made this video netcast ‘event’. It’s more about the message he is sending to the other creative individuals out there thinking of doing something (or the exact same thing) similar. He has shown that with a few props, a fun story and almost no special effects it is possible to create a smashing sensation bypassing the traditional media outlet channels and gatekeepers by leveraging the viral aspects of the Internet and the digital distribution methods available on it. And probably make some nice coin in the process – after all there is a crew to pay…
Compounding the broadcaster’s problems are the never ending cavalcade of stories and op-ed pieces by people like me throwing ideas at the industry hoping they’ll wake up to the opportunities that they have and are capable of grasping.
The recent story in TVNewsDay outlines a dozen of immediate issues that broadcasters face and need to be addressed if they hope to remain competitive.
To better serve local and young audiences, TV stations are going to have to get into the business of creating their own programming, just as they did in the old days, something besides news.
Wow, this sounds familiar…
In the mean time I can’t wait to buy the Dr. Horrible DVD when it comes out. It sure beats anything on TV worth watching, much less buying.
[UPDATE – 11 AUG 08] – The entire, 3-part video is now being hosted in the HD Gallery of hulu.com. Check it out!