By many indicators, this has been a dream year for online content creators: Netflix, YouTube and Hulu have been pouring bigger budgets than ever into original web series; major web-brands like Google, AOL and Yahoo just had their version of the TV upfornts; UltraViolet is taking off; and the time spent watching online videos has been growing by almost 50% year to year.
Judging by the hype, one could have expected that a panel called “Original Web Series at the Tipping Point” would be full of euphoria. But it wasn’t. It was actually quite low-key. I thought some of the most interesting comments focused on when will the tipping point finally happen? When will we see an online series that has the same impact and buzz as The Sopranos or Mad Men? Rob Barnett, Founder and CEO at My Damn Channel, had a good answer.
On that same note, Marc DeBevoise, SVP and GM Entertainment at CBS Interactive, shared a fairly conservative approach to investing in original web series. Per DeBevoise, even with the tremendous growth in online videos, CBS prefers to invest in web content that is based on established TV brands.
At first, this answer seemed very surprising. In a year in which some media companies invest hundreds of millions of dollars in original series – CBS still feels that the digital space can only handle 5-minute Big Bang Theory spin-offs? Then again, CBS is by far the most successful TV company theses days so why would they change their successful original content strategy?
Finally, just before the panel ended, Ran Harnevo, SVP video at AOL mentioned one device that could lead to the big bang of online video. If Harnevo is right, in 2015 this panel will be very different, as web shows will finally reach the tipping point.