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YouTube versus the Boob Tube

What do you want to watch?  The answer to this question used to be relegated to whatever the networks or cable affiliates decided to serve up.  But not anymore.  While networks continue to turn out the same old, same old, served up with ubiquitous four minute commercial breaks, many viewers are breaking away from the Boob Tube to embrace YouTube.  In fact, in 2011, it was reported that web viewers watched more than one trillion YouTube videos. One trillion. That's more than 3 billion views per day or 140 videos for every person on the planet.

Known chiefly in the past for airing junk videos chock full of funny cat tricks, dorm room pranks and millions of amateur videos replete with shaky camerawork, the stage is now set for a whole new level of web TV programming that while short of the mark set by the major networks, is nonetheless compelling and well produced.  Just as with the networks, the success of a web tv shows is measured by viewership.  Recently, Mashable.com compiled a list of the top 10 YouTube series, which generated anywhere from 4.27 million for the tenth place “Back on Chart” to a whopping 49.26 million viewers for “The Annoying Orange.”  Not bad for a wisecracking piece of animated citrus fruit. (A recent episode of Annoying Orange generated more than 100 million views.)

While most of the current lineup on YouTube is hardly giving the major networks a run for their money when it comes to production value and budget, that doesn’t mean that they can rest on their laurels.  Every day new reality series, variety shows and homegrown sitcoms debut on YouTube.  Some of them are even sponsored by local businesses.  The reason that it is so easy to get into the game is due to the fact that unlike TV, you don’t have to beg a network or cable affiliate to carry your show.  It’s plug and play when it comes to web TV.  Anyone can get into the game. 

This factor opens up the floodgates to companies and individuals who can produce must-see-online-TV shows.  Just think of the possibilities.  Instead of merely producing blogs and tweeting your head off to get the word out about your business, why not create a series where you can engage and build an audience.  Unlike producing an infomercial or shooting a cable show, online episodes are not shown in the dead of night to a negligible audience.  They aren’t aired one time only.  They air on demand and are online all the time.  This means that someone tuning into your series at episode fifteen, can watch all fourteen preceding episodes at the click of the mouse.

Also production costs are much less for online productions.  Where it takes several days to shoot a typical cable episode, it isn’t unusual to be able to shoot four episodes (enough to air an episode per week for a month) in one day.  This means that the cost to produce a web series is much less than anything that can be done for traditional broadcast television.  Plus, every episode can be used to enhance all your existing marketing by being embedded in your blogs, linked to your social networks and included in every piece of printing, advertising and direct mail you produce by the inclusion of a QR code.

The bottom line is that if you truly want your business to break out of the box and do something that your competition has not yet tried, Web TV could be just the ticket.  This way when someone asks you “What do you want to watch?”  The answer could be, “Have you seen my show?”

Carl Weiss operates a Web TV production facility at http://jacksonville-video-production.com  His web series include http://american-dream-machine.com http://workingthewebtowin.com and http://mancavemunchies.com 
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